A Review Of Jane Elliott’s Experiment In, A Class Divided

Jane Elliot, a Riceville teacher, engages her third grade students in a brown-blue experiment. The purpose of the experiment is to teach children about discrimination and prejudice. This same experiment was repeated with adults two years later.

Jane Elliot explained to her third-graders with blue eyes that she was better than the brown-eyed ones in her experiment on the brown/blue eyed. The collars of the brown-eyed students were necessary to distinguish each group from afar. Elliot said that the blue-eyed children were smarter, more polite, and better than them. They also enjoyed certain privileges over the other children. The brown-eyed students were told by her that they weren’t doing their best and they had less recess. The students were all friends and worked well together before the experiment. But, the experiment was over, and they began to hate one another. The experiment started with both the blue and brown students showing discrimination during recess. Students started acting this way because they believed their group was superior to the other, and they felt that the others weren’t being treated fair. The students displayed hatred of the other group, as well as hatred at home. Elliot changed all that when she said to the blue-eyed groups that they were now superior. Whichever group was told it was “superior” achieved better results and worked faster than the other. The teacher gave the project to the brown-eyed students in 2 and 1/2 minutes. They completed it in 5 minutes. The experiment had an impact on the students’ academic skills. This was evident when they got lower grades for being inferior, higher grades for being superior, and overall higher grades after it was over. The experiment was completed and the teacher assured the students that all are created equal, no one is superior to anyone, regardless of eye color. Students were happy to see the experiment end. They felt that everyone was equal and that no one is better than anyone else, especially when they have families. Her students took the knowledge they gained about dealing with prejudice and discrimination to teach their children to not hate people of different races or colors. Elliot’s children admitted to having taught their kids racism. But, they said that they’ve heard their children use racist slurs. What they did not learn was from their parents and was probably learned from other students.

Jane Elliot was conducting an experiment with adults. The blue-eyed people waited for half an hours outside. They finally entered the room. Similar to Elliot’s students, the adults believed they were superior and started to notice the worst traits about each other. Elliot started to become very angry with one lady because she made the brown people feel superior and degraded the blue. After the experiment was concluded, the blue-eyed participants informed Elliot of their feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness and discomfort.

Jane Elliot’s brow/blue eyed experiment demonstrates how discrimination can feel. Although prejudice has been an issue in my past, I have never felt it as a significant factor in my own life. I understand how discriminatory it can be, especially for a minority. People of other races might feel superior to you, but if they were in your shoes, they might think differently.

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