Last updated: May 23, 2019
Topic: FamilyChildren
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Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, teacher Jane Elliott knew she had to do something. Riceville, Iowa, the town in which she lived, was totally homogeneous and, as a result, she realized that her students had no firsthand experience with discrimination. A Class Divided: Then and Now chronicles Elliott’s courageous experiment and the life-altering impact it had on her students. This action research study is an attempt to measure the impact of the intervention on this targeted group of students and their ability to demonstrate skills such as using self-control, avoiding trouble, and accepting consequences. A Class Divided” is a film that everyone should view no matter what race or ethnicity a person might be. Whether we realize it or not, everyone is prone to some form of discrimination or prejudice. Most Americans are not part of the dominant group; therefore, due to being a minority, we undergo a feeling of inferiority. This film presents us with a different view on the color of someone’s characteristics. After viewing this, a person will hopefully be less likely to focus on the differences they have with other people and see people all as equals.

This topic was of great interest to me due to the fact that I witness discrimination many times a day. I know that myself, an Asian-American woman, has faced discrimination many times in my life. This film helps those who do not face prejudices in their everyday life, realize what it is like to be on the other end. The film starts off with a reunion between the third graders who were in the film, “Eye of the Storm. ” A teacher put them through an experiment in which she initially tells them that the blue eyed children are better than the brown eyed.

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She gives them more privileges; such as giving them more play time, and allowing them to drink out of the drinking fountain, where as the brown eyed had to drink out of plastic cups, and wear blue collars to show those at a distance that they were of the minority. She also said that the two groups were not allowed to play with each other. She made the blue eyed children feel as though they were better and smarter than the others. The next day she switches places, and tells the brown eyed children that they are better than the blue eyed.

The film also does this with adults, allowing the blue eyed to feel stupid as she points out how they forget things quicker, and do not pay as much attention. We see the reactions to this treatment throughout the movie, which I will go through step by step. This film makes us realize how many concepts are still evident today in everyday life. One is name calling, another is referring other people not in your “group” as “them” or “you guys. ” The film also shows us that people who are normally cooperative, turn nasty and discriminating, while also this creates small societies in which the group bonds together.

The most amazing concept is the fact that when the dominant group feels support, they appear to think quicker and do better on tests. It just shows that all we need is a little ego boost and we can do almost anything that we want. We need motivation from the people we look up to and respect. The teacher points out to the children the ascribed trait that they were born with blue eyes or brown eyes. The first day in which the blue eyed had the upper hand; tensions grew between the two groups. One boy hit another due to the fact that he was called “brown eyes. Someone of authority told him that he had blue eyes so therefore he was better. He called him a name to hurt him, not to be funny. He saw the brown eyed as different and therefore since they were told they were the best, he wanted to make him realize he was not as good as him. We see this happen in everyday life by things we call “stereotypes. ” We automatically look at Mexicans and assume they are out to do harm. Jewish people we consider to be stingy with money. We have name calling just as the children were calling each other names. Our society uses names such as nigger, cracker and gook to dehumanize the other group.

We witness name calling almost every day, though we hardly even notice it anymore. One concept from the film was the arrogant attitudes where a group would refer to the others as “them” or “your people. ” Even today we relate certain groups that are not like us to phrases such as these. This arrogance makes me think about Hitler and the Jews. Hitler told the Germans that all those who had blue eyes and blonde hair were better. Therefore, everyone who did not hold these features should be removed. Obviously he was referring to the Jewish people. Everyone believed him or got brainwashed by him in my opinion.

Even though the Jewish never caused harm to the Germans, they saw no need for them to remain on this earth. A concept I noticed was that the children who were under normal circumstances, cooperative with one another, turned nasty and discriminating once told they were better. Those who were outside the superior group felt “immoralized” and “humiliated” that they did not hold the features of the other group. They felt like outsiders and therefore remained out the outside. In jobs this can become an obstacle if you only associated with those like you.

Many ideas can be lost if everyone does not cooperate with one another. An example is Institutional Inequality. Minorities are oppressed and controlled by the dominant group. Therefore they are not getting a wide variety of views and opinions that could be beneficial. They have gate keeps, which are people who limit access to positions of wealth, power and respect. This seems to me to make things at a standstill because those who are in the dominant group hold much of the same ideas. “The children became discriminating by saying things such as” what are you doing with HIM? ” he’s not like you!

How can we all cooperate when appearances are such an issue? “(Ms. Elliot) Finally, we understand from the film that those who were in the superior group did better on tests. The first day, when the blue eyed were dominant, the brown eyed children took five and a half minutes to complete a spelling exercise. While the second day, when they were the top group, they completed the same exercise in two and a half minutes. The first day they were saying how they could not do it, they were not smart enough. Being told they were the smartest made them believe that they really were.

A shock to me was the fact that even adults reacted in this matter. They were all handed a test and the blue eyed adults not only did worse, but also were too ashamed to write their full names down. They either wrote their initials, or simply their last names. They felt hatred towards the brown eyed adults and started to slack behind due to this feelings. This just shows us how much of an impact society has on us. My mother used to tell me if I think positively I will do better academically. I never realized the extent to how right she was! At the reunion, the adults explained how that they still feel like a family.

During the experiment they found out how to hurt each other and all admit that they would not treat each other that way again. Ms. Elliot speaks of the Saux prayer which states “Help me not judge a person until I have walked in a pair of their moccasins. ” I believe the Saux prayer related to the children’s experience because now they got a taste of what it is like to be someone of minority. They said the reason for them acting the way they did towards each other was the fact that they had an opportunity to release all their pent up hostilities they had for each other.

Once they got rid of the collars though, everyone disregarded that hostility and went back to their normal hugging. Overall they still hold that experiment in high regards and feel that it made them they way they are today. This film taught me a lot. Although I was not a part of it myself, it helped me put everything into perspective. I realize how I would feel if I had been discriminated towards having blue eyes even though I could not help it. This film shows us first hand displays of discrimination. Discrimination is a behavior. It’s when actions are unfavorable to a minority group.

Prejudice is discrimination. It’s a state of mind mostly derived from someone’s outward appearance. The children with blue eyed were prejudice towards the brown eyed children. We also saw how the children focused on ascribed traits which are something you are born with. Sadly enough a result from all of this created micro Cosmo societies. The children bonded with those who psychically looked like them. I learned how ignorant it is for a person to focus on personal characteristics because after all, we will never know how it feels unless we step inside someone else’s shoes.

PBS (A Class Divided) Http://