Who Loves You, Baby?

Are Racism and Prejudice Taught?

In Main Event, News on August 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm
Central heterochromia of the iris; a blue/grey...

Image via Wikipedia. Is a brown eye really superior to a blue eye? Watch these videos and you tell me.

Jane Elliot (http://www.janeelliott.com) is an American teacher, who, during the 1960s, taught children anti-racism classes (although unbeknownst to the children for most for of the duration of the “experiment”) in her third grade classes.

The children were told that those with blue eyes were superior to those with brown eyes; and that the blue eyed children would be allowed more play time and receive other perks as well – since, of course, they were not as messy or as slow as the brown-eyed children.

After a little while, the brown eyed children were forced to wear special collars, and were more regularly mocked and derided by blue eyed students for perceived flaws and slovenly character traits.

If a brown eyed child make a mistake or was slow or cried, it would be pointed out that it was because of that child’s inferior state of being. S/he couldn’t help it, because sh/e was just naturally inferior, anyway.

Jan Elliot is a pioneer in what is now called “diversity training,” or “sensitivity training,” before it existed as now know it.

Undoubtedly, Jane Elliot could not teach children her anti-racism instruction in today’s private or parochial schools without eventually having some manner of legal action taken against her-and certainly she has (and continues to) receive negative or misunderstood reactions to what she’s trying to inculcate in (now) adults.

She came to the conclusion eventually that racism and prejudice are indeed taught, but that also, more importantly, that what can be taught can also be un-taught…at least to some extent.

Of course, “un-learning” (to paraphrase George W. Bush) racism takes time. Lots of time. And she’s a strong-willed, conscientious educator for continuing her mission.

If you’d like to learn more about Jane Elliot’s experiences in teaching “anti-racism” and how she does it, take some time to watch these truly eye-opening (pun intended) videos to get the proverbial ball rolling:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Frontline’s “A Class Divided” episode featuring Jane Elliot and her classes/training shows all 3 videos in one website, that also has teaching note and a great interview with Jane Elliot:

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  1. [...] Jane Elliot (http://www.janeelliott.com) is an American teacher, who, during the 1960s, taught children anti-racism classes (although unbeknownst to the children for most for of the duration of the "experiment") in her third grade classes. The children were told that those with blue eyes were superior to those with brown eyes; and that the blue eyed children would be allowed more play time and receive other perks as well – since, of course, they … Read More [...]

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