In 1968 in the little town of Riceville, Iowa, Jane Elliott tried to explain the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to her third-grade students. The all-white class didn’t understand the concept of discrimination. So Mrs. Elliott devised a clever experiment…
Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes
She divided her classroom into two groups: blue eyes and brown eyes.
On the first day, Elliott told the classroom that blue eyes indicated superior intelligence, and brown-eyed kids were dumb and lazy. On the second day, she said she’d been wrong…brown-eyed children were the smart ones; it was the blue-eyed kids who were dumb, lazy, and inclined to cheat.
The impact was amazing, the reactions startling. It’s horrendous to see hopelessness on the face of a third-grader who’s getting punished for the color of her eyes. And yet, equally asinine prejudices are still practiced every day.
A Class Divided
The complete 46-minute, award-winning PBS documentary about Jane Elliott’s Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment is free to watch online, and it’s absolutely riveting.
Watch it here: A Class Divided.
[tags]racism, prejudice, discrimination, Jane Elliott, Martin Luther King Jr, A Class Divided, Blue Eyes Brown Eyes[/tags]