Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Jane Elliot’s Experiment

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A Divided Class From the moment our country was created, one of the main liberties we asked for was the idea of equality, “that all men will be created equal. ” Although this has been a part of the American ideal since 1776, American’s have not fulfilled this liberty. Individuals do not admit it, but many are still prejudice against minorities, particularly African Americans. In the 1960’s, around the time when Martin Luther King Jr. as fighting for civil rights for people of color, a 3rd grade school teacher, Jane Elliot, from Riceville, Iowa was busy at work in an attempt to recreate the negative emotional and physical effects of racism within her classroom. She created an experiment in which she divided her students into unequal groups as a way of creating artificial stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination. Jane Elliot eventually expanded her experiments into the adult population. She has done these experiments on corrections workers in prisons, as well as college students.

Through all these experiments, Jane Elliot has made many conclusions and generalizations that can directly relate back to the real world, and hopefully aid in solving the problem of racism. Jane Elliot’s experimentation with stereotypes first began within the walls of her 3rd grade classroom. Before the experiment began she asked the students for their opinions on minority groups. Many of the students answered with statements regarding black people as being dumb and different than whites. They also discussed how African Americans do not have the same opportunities as white people do because of the color of their skin.

Jane Elliot continued by effectively dividing the students into unequal groups based on eye color. From the initial division, Jane Elliot treated the students in the brown eyed group as if they were inferior to those in the blue eyed group. She set a vast amount of boundaries limiting what those in the bottom could do, and in contrast expanding what those in the top could do. This document had a lot of great points that stood out as I viewed the film. The fact that these third grades actually understood this exercises was one point that just touched my heart.

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If little babies can understand that racism is not the way to go; then adults should be about to let it go as well and treat everyone equal. Another thing that stood out is when Jane Elliot was doing the study with the adults in her and another white lady were going back in forward with one another. That caught my eye since the white lady felt like she could talk to Jane Elliot any kind of way. In the real world a lot of white people do feel that they are above everyone and can say and do as they please. In that incident just goes to show the truth to that.

Three social psychology terms I remember from the film “A Divided Class” were stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination. These three terms stuck with me because they are basically the base terms when it comes to social psychology. Stereotype is the generalization about a group of people in which certain traits are assigned to virtually all members of the group, regardless of actual variation among the members. This goes hand to hand with the film since the kids were made to believe that everyone with brown eyes was less than the kids with blue eyes.

That is stereotyping since they did not try to get to know one another for who they really are but for what they were told about them. Prejudice is a hostile or negative attitude toward a distinguishable group of people, based solely on their membership of that group. For example, Jane Elliot told the blue eye kids to be mean and not listen to the brown eye kids. This was done to show the meaning of prejudice. Since the kids gave the brown eye kids a very negative attitude just because they had brown eyes. Discrimination is unjustified negative or harmful action toward a member of a group simply because his or her membership in that group.

The kids in class did not allow the brown eye kids to play on the big toy that was an act of discrimination. They were being negative since the kids had brown eyes and not blue. In closing, when I meet people who seem racist or come from families where parents have told them that black does more bad stuff then us white folks, I always ask "what if we all had the same skin color? Who would be the bad guy? I believe it is the fear, it is always easier to point fingers telling, hey it’s because he is black, hey it’s because he got a mental illness, however people would be in shock soon as someone say he is a normally family guy" then you can’t point fingers. I some time feel victimize, and it’s hard to accept and realized how evil some people can be and how judgmental they are as well. On the other hand, this film has really help open my eyes to the real world. In you should never judge a book by its cover because you don’t know where and what it has been through. This experiment should be express through all school, starting at a young age because that will be the back bone on rather or not the student will grow up being prejudice towards others. show more

Jane Elliot’s Experiment essay

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