I remember watching either snippets of the video ‘A Class Divided’ or the entire video as part of a required class for elementary education majors. Basically, it is a documentary on how a third-grade teacher, Jane Elliott, gave a lesson on discrimination. This was done in the 1960s after Martin Luther King Jr died. The children were confused about race. She first divided the class into two groups one blue eyed and the other brown eyed. The blue eyed group was at first given favoritism with things such as extra recess time. They were told they were smarter just because of their blue eyes and that they did not or were not to associate with anyone from the brown eyed group. It was surprising to see how discriminatory and mean the children became. At recess the brown eyed children were teased and their motivation decreased. Later, she told the class she lied and that brown eyes were better than blue eyes. The blue eyed children were not allowed in the playground etc. and wore collars so they were easily identified and the same thing happened. The children with the blue eyes were teased and had a decrease in motivation and each group treated each other poorly. Thirty years later members of the class remember the lesson and discuss its’ impact on them in the documentary.
This documentary highlights how a teacher really has an opportunity to motivate and influence children for better or worse. A teacher is able to build up students with confidence and inspiration and interest in a subject and learning in general or just the opposite or to have a forgetful impact. This shows how a teacher can make a difference. I still remember this video from years ago and it has had an impact on me, how nice children could become so mean. This shows how everyone does better with praise as the better treated group consistently performed better than the poorly treated group. Discrimination is not kind when you are its’ object whether from the start or when the tables turn. It is something easy to give but hard to take.
If you do a Google search for ‘A Class Divided” you can watch, buy, and or read commentary on the video at sites like:
- www.employeeuniversity.com (sells training videos for workplaces)
- www.trainingabc.com (also sells training videos for workplaces)
- www.thereligionteacher.com (has some nice teaching strategies)
- www.proprofs.com (quiz maker, had a sample quiz for A Class Divided, although probably is a free plugin available for creating quizzes)
- www.upworthy.com (has a clip with Chinese subtitles)
- atsmedia.com (training videos and e-learning)
- books.google.com (there is a a book by author William Peters
- residientassistant.com (to watch video and lead a discussion, mentions how replicating the experiment is considered unethical and HIGHLY discouraged)
- www.iamnotthebabysitter.com (this site looked interesting and some great content)
I was surprised nothing came up on Squidoo.com and Bubblews.com when I searched for ‘A Class Divided.’