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Blue Eyes - Brown Eyes


Almost 20 years ago, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, a teacher in a small town in Iowa tried a daring classroom experiment. She decided to treat children with blue eyes as superior to children with brown eyes. "A Class Divided" is a video that shows what those children learned about discrimination and how it still affects them today, showing a reunion of that third grade class.

This  is a easy program that will raise many issues.  You should be able to locate the video through your psychology department or library.  It would be an excellent time to bring in someone who is experienced in leading discussions surrounding diversity.

Instructions/Things Needed:

Video: "A Class Divided" 
A class divided [videorecording] / produced and directed by William Peters ; correspondent, Charlie Cobb ; written by William Peters, Charlie Cobb ; a production of Yale University Films for Frontline ; produced for the Documentary Consortium by WGBH Boston. (Be sure your institution has copyright license to show this video to groups.)

Washington, DC : PBS Video [distributor], c1985. See http://www.janeelliott.com/videos.htm for details on ordering the video.

Presenter: someone familiar with the experiment and the film, who is good at leading interactive discussions.

Other Considerations:

Think of creative ways to promote this event such as signs asking "are blue eyes or brown eyes better?"

Important note: It has been suggested that people actually attempt to replicate the experiment.  This is HIGHLY discouraged, and is considered by many to be unethical today.  The psychological ramifications could be dramatic, as you will see by watching the video. For information on Jane Elliott, visit her website at http://www.janeelliott.com.

© Dan Oltersdorf | Contact

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