A Class Divided is a nice video that shows a teacher’s experiment with her students the studies teach us how stereotyping causes students to shift, and how they communicate with the other classes.
The video focuses on how stereotyping affects students ‘ perceptions, attitudes and actions and how students (people) within the same group communicate and how they interact with other classes. Individuals are prejudiced and when they are stereotyped, it instills delusions and ego’s onto others. When placed in a diverse group, stereotyping affects people’s efficiency and their performances.
A few of the most obvious consequences of stereotyping are low employee morale, no successful working relationships, poor communication mistreatment and violence enormous pressure in the work environment incapacity to function as a team etc. The video that shows us a teacher’s project with her students is a real-life snapshot of the world. The study shows us, how Jane Elliott tried to discuss discrimination, racism, and prejudice issues with her third-grade class in Riceville, Iowa in 1968 following the murder of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Not believing that the debate was hitting her students, which normally did not associate with minorities in their rural town, Mrs. Elliott began a two-day ‘blue eyes / brown eyes’ experiment to highlight the disparity of discrimination and racism: Those with blue eyes were handled preferentially, offered positive reinforcement, and made to feel better over those with brown eyes for one day; the practice was repeated the next day, with Mrs. Elliott granting preference to brown-eyed children.
As a result, whichever party Elliott preferred improved positively in class, answered questions quickly and accurately, and performed better in testing; those who were discriminated against were more downcast, delayed and unsure in their responses, and lost in testing. The plot was taken up by A Class Divided in August 1984, with Peters portraying Mrs. Elliott and eleven of the now-grown children who were reunited at their high school reunion. The former students and Mrs. Elliott replayed The Eye of the Storm together at their invitation. Scenes from that original film are interspersed with the actual reactions and anecdotes of the participants.
As Charlie Cobb states in his introduction, being together is Mrs. Elliott’s first chance to find out how much of the lesson her students have held. Throughout interviews the students share their memory of their emotions during the film, including that of shame and anger while wearing the brown identity collars (Mrs. Elliott used them to easily identify the party being discriminated against). As they had discovered after the 1970 trial, the now-adults agree that racism and discrimination was false, and that other children, teachers and adults in the present day should view the life-affecting lesson as a means of learning.
The film briefly portrays that this form of division generates rift among the people in general. We intentionally or unintentionally, as part of our socialization process, give our children instruction based on such stereotypes and biases.
I learned that children can be easily influenced by adults. According to Mahzarin Banaji (a psychologist, brain researcher and bias and physical oppression specialist from Harvard University), discrimination and racial attitudes can be taught in children as young as three years of age. Upon exposure to episodes of prejudice, children can display racist behavior and shape interaction between negative prejudices. Can prejudice behaviors which children learn at a young age stick with them in adulthood in the future?
The biggest influence of this aspect is how a child analyzes in-group and out-group prejudices, in which ‘in-group members tend to measure favorably and respond less favorably to the in-group and out-group’ (Schneider, 2011). The key component that children need to recognize diversity is witnessing different groups that interrelate in a healthy and positive way. Exposure to diversity during their lifetime will reflect more important qualities that identify someone other than their skin color, physical characteristics, gestures, ethnicity or gender (Boston Globe, 2012).
To this day, this experiment works on adults and children, since Dr. Elliot has now performed the same experiment globally. Unfortunately, we cannot really empathize and understand the perspective of the individual until we walk in another’s shoes. The study was also conducted on adults in the video. We see how the blue eye people were treated unfairly and judge solely on that fact that their eyes are blue. I personally felt that the effect wasn’t as powerful on adults like it was on the kids. I did however take a quick second to think on the way that I treat people that don’t look like me.
I asked myself to do I treat others differently because of the way they look. Gladly the answer is no. My parents taught me to treat others the way that I want to be treated regardless of the way they look. I am also a strong believer that children learn how to behave watching adults. If you teach a child to be kind to other in an early stage in life, they will grow up to be kind, if you teach a child hate they will hate. I think it’s clear what Mrs. Elliott demonstrated in the video; you never know how someone feels till you walk in their shoes.
- Cobb, C. (2020). A Class Divided. [online] En.wikipedia.org. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Class_Divided [Accessed 20 Jan. 2020].
- H. Burnett III, j. (2012). Racism learned New research suggests prejudices may form at a much earlier age, but it also offers hope that biases can be unlearned.
- Divided, A., Peters, W., Jones, R., Revival, T., Revival, T., Robinson, T., minority, A., Mace, P., Carberry, T., Namikaze, M., Simmons-Hale, L., Parker, C., Hearer, A., Katabarwa, F., Jay, A., Plummer, N., Medina, L. and isaac, g. (2020). A Class Divided. [online] Top Documentary Films. Available at: https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/a-class-divided/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2020].
- BostonGlobe.com. (2020). Racism learned – The Boston Globe. [online] Available at: https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2012/06/09/harvard-researcher-says-children-learn-racism-quickly/gWuN1ZG3M40WihER2kAfdK/story.html [Accessed 20 Jan. 2020].