Jane Elliott ‘A Class Divided’

Question 1

Describe what initial feelings the exercise provoked.

Initially, I was intrigued by the exercise conducted by Jane Elliot. It provoked a variety of feelings, such as curiosity towards the results of the exercise, and fascination towards the way how Jane Elliot managed to deliver her message to the students. In order to understand how the students felt during the exercise, I tried to imagine that I was one of them. I felt anger and prejudice towards one group of students, because the teacher was ordering the students to judge other people by the color of their eyes. She treated brown-eyed people badly compared to blue-eyed people. In the contemporary society, racism is a serious problem. Jane Elliot created a model of society in her classroom in order to teach her students what racism and discrimination are. People do not enjoy being hated and discriminated. Hatred always leads to more hatred. In my opinion, people should never be judged by the color of their eyes or skin. The only important thing is personality.

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Question 2

After you watch the whole video “A class divided” did your feelings changed?

After watching the whole video, my feelings slightly changed. The exercise had an extremely positive effect on Jane Elliot’s students. It enabled them to understand how it is to be someone else. It made them realize how it is to discriminate, and to be discriminated.  They understood that all outside features of a person are not important, only the inner features of the person are of significance. However, I think that the exercise was too intense and strict for such young children. In my opinion, it could have mentally traumatized them, and made some of them vicious and angry. The exercise showed that discrimination and prejudice change behavior of people. If a person believes that he/she is better than other people, this person becomes arrogant, and vicious. It is also interesting that, if a person thinks that he/she can study better, this person starts to make academic progress. If a person thinks that he/she is unable to study well, this person cannot achieve success in studying.

After watching the exercise, I learned more about what being racist truly means. It was interesting to find out that racism is not the natural behavior of a person. People learn to behave like racists from other people. This exercise helped children understand that they would feel better without discriminating others, and without being discriminated. All people should have equal rights. People have to work together to make the world a better place. ‘A Class Divided’ is an effective exercise, which helps people to understand what racism and discrimination are, and to avoid them in their life.

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Question 3

Explain in detail how you might implement a similar exercise in your 2nd grade class? How would you divide your class? Keep in mind all the ethical issues you want to tackle.

In my 2nd grade class, I can implement this exercise by dividing my students into a dominant group and an inferior group. I would divide the students on the basis of their hair color. On the first day of the exercise, I would tell my students that people who have blond hair are better than people who have non-blond hair. I would make blond-haired students feel that they are the dominant group by telling them that they can play for ten minutes longer than non-blond students during the recess. I would also tell blond-haired students that each of them can take three pieces of candy from the bowl on my desk, while each of the non-blond-haired children can take only one piece of candy. I also would tell my dominant group that they can talk to each other and to non-blond-haired students whenever they want, even during the lesson, while non-blond-haired children are permitted to talk to blond-haired students only those allow them to talk. I also would tell blond-haired students to come and sit in the front part of the classroom, while children who belong to another group will have to go and sit in the back.

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On the second day of the exercise, I would tell non-blond-haired students that they are the dominant group, and that they are better than blond-haired students. I would give all the benefits to them, and would make blond-haired students become an inferior group. At the end of the second day, I would ask both groups what they learnt. By doing so, I would tackle several ethical issues, such as prejudice, discrimination, and racism. During the exercise, students will understand how it feels to discriminate and to be discriminated. Each student will understand that all people are equal.

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