A class divided – An eye-opening experiment on racism

On October 5 the  World Teachers’ Day is celebrated. In honor of the World Teachers’ Day, I would like to share a video that makes an astonishing message.

Last weekend, I came across a provocative experiment conducted by a primary school teacher in Iowa in 1968 in order to introduce prejudice to her classroom’s children. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elliot decided to give a lesson to her third graders by an experiment allowed them to experience discrimination first hand. She walked in her class the next day and introduced an eye colour exercise. One day she divided the pupils by eye color (brown eyes vs. blue eyes) and told that one color represents a superior person and the next day it was and vice versa. The experiment has been documented on camera. Also, the footage shows kids grown up in their reunion 15 years after the experiment was conducted.

Apart from the stunning revelations of how power and discrimination affected those pupils in the experiment on an emotional level, there was a major impact on their learning as well. The power of negative expectations is demonstrated so powerfully in the experiment!  ‘Superior’ pupils were given math and spelling tests during the experiment and their grades went up. On the contrary, ‘inferior’ pupils performed worse even though they were good students.

I would warmly recommend watching this eye-opening documentary ‘A Class Divided’!

2 thoughts on “A class divided – An eye-opening experiment on racism

    • Inara, it is harsh but effective! I want to replicate it to my business students. I feel you.. I was bullied at school for being different, too. Kids can be cruel. As teachers we should be alert and detect any signs of discrimination and bullying to its infancy as well as educate and provoke the thinking of the children for a better understanding of differences.

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