Racism, Prejudice, and Jane Elliott

Jane Elliott's Class

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]

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4 Responses to Racism, Prejudice, and Jane Elliott

  1. AnferTuto says:

    Hola faretaste

  2. shasta says:

    This brown eyes blue eyes exercise is riveting. Jane Elliott has done this exercise with very young children, young adults and adults in the workplace. All with eerily similar results.

    There is a great facilitator’s package for using with adults called Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes: Linking Perceptions & Performance available from http://www.trainerstoolchest.com that helps in moving this exercise from awareness into action in the workplace.

    The original version too – Eye of the Storm – has a great subtext message of the pygmalion effect and the self-fulfilling prophesy.

  3. Xman says:

    I’m about three minutes away from being a friend or a pest to everyone I know….by copying everyone on this video.

  4. So, another good reason for us green eyes to play hooky in good conscience.

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