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The Anti-Racism Experiment That Transformed an Oprah Show Audience

Jane Elliott's anti-racism experiments on the British | Culture | The Guardian

17 Oct The next day she reversed the experiment, and the results reversed, although this time the brown-eyed children, having already experienced discrimination, were more sensitive to the suffering of their blue-eyed peers. The idea was simple and effective. Something as genetically incidental as eye colour. 4 Apr Brown-eyed kids picked on blue-eyed ones, and banded together against them. More startlingly, individual kids changed. Blue-eyed students forgot skills they had had the day before. Brown-eyed kids who had been shy became gregarious and bossy. Elliott reversed the experiment the next day, when she. Back in the classroom, Elliott's experiment had taken on a life of its own. A smart blue-eyed girl who had never had problems with multiplication tables started making mistakes. She slumped. At recess, three brown-eyed girls ganged up on her. “You better apologize to us for getting in our way because we're better than you.

She is known for her "Blue eyes—Brown eyes" exercise. She first conducted her famous exercise for her class the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. When her local newspaper published compositions that the children had written about the experience, the reactions both positive and negative formed the basis for her career as a public speaker against discrimination.

Jane Elliott Brown Eyes vs Blue Eyes 1

Elliott's classroom exercise was filmed the third time she held it with her third-graders to become The Eye of the Storm. This in turn inspired a retrospective that reunited the class members with their teacher fifteen years later in A Class Divided. After leaving her school, Elliott became a diversity educator full-time.

She still holds the exercise and gives lectures about its effects all over the U. Her father, who delivered her, was Irish-American. She was the fourth of several children. Inafter graduating from high school, Elliott attended the Iowa State Teachers College now the University of Northern Iowawhere she attained an emergency elementary teaching certificate in five quarters.

Inshe began her teaching career in a one-room school in Randall. On the evening of April 4,Elliott turned on her television and learned of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She says that she vividly remembers a scene in which a white reporter pointed his microphone toward a local black leader and asked, "When our leader [ John Check this out. Kennedy ] was killed several years ago, his widow held us together.

Who's going to control your people? At the moment she was watching the news of King's death, she was ironing a teepee for use in a lesson unit about Native Americans. The following day, she held a class discussion about the lesson and also talked about racism in general.

They were doing what white people do. When white people sit down to discuss racism what they are experiencing is shared ignorance. She felt that simply talking about racism would not allow her all-white class to fully comprehend racism's meaning and effects.

She suggested to the class that it would be hard for them to understand discrimination without experiencing it themselves and then asked the children if they would like Jane Elliott Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment find out.

The children agreed with a chorus of "yeah"s. She decided to base the exercise on eye color rather than skin color in order to show the children what racial segregation would be like. On the first day of the exercise, she designated the blue-eyed children as the superior group. Elliott provided brown fabric collars and asked the blue-eyed students to wrap them around the necks of their brown-eyed peers as a method to easily identify the minority group.

She gave the blue-eyed children extra privileges, such as second helpings at lunch, access to the new jungle gym, and five extra minutes at recess. The blue-eyed children sat in the front Hookup Email Whats For Online Good A the classroom, and the brown-eyed children were sent to sit in the back rows.

The blue-eyed children were encouraged to play only with other blue-eyed children and to ignore those with brown eyes. Elliott would not allow brown-eyed and blue-eyed children to drink from the same water fountain and often chastised the brown-eyed students when they did not follow the exercise's rules or made mistakes. She often exemplified the differences between the two groups by singling out students and would use negative aspects of brown-eyed children to emphasize a point.

At first, there was resistance among the students in the minority group to the idea that blue-eyed children were better than brown-eyed children. To counter this, Elliott lied to the children by stating that melanin was linked to their higher intelligence and learning ability. Shortly thereafter, this initial resistance fell away.

Those who were Jane Elliott Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment "superior" became arrogant, bossy, and otherwise unpleasant to their "inferior" classmates. Their grades on simple tests were better, and they completed mathematical and reading tasks that had seemed outside their ability before. The "inferior" classmates also transformed — into timid and subservient children who scored more poorly on tests, and even during Jane Elliott Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment isolated themselves, including those who had previously been dominant in the class.

These children's academic performance suffered, even with tasks that had been simple before. The next Monday, [5] Elliott reversed the exercise, making the brown-eyed children superior. While the brown-eyed children did taunt the blue-eyed children in ways similar to what had occurred the previous day, Elliott reports it was much less intense.

Lesson of a Lifetime

To reflect on the experience, she asked the children to write down what they had learned. The compositions that the children wrote about the experience were printed in the Riceville Recorder on page 4 on April 18,under the headline "How Discrimination Feels", and the story was picked up by the Associated Press.

After she spoke about her exercise in a short interview segment, the audience reaction was instant as hundreds of calls came into the show's telephone switchboard, much of it negative.

Jane Elliott Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment

Black children grow up accustomed to such behavior, but white children, there's no way they could possibly understand it. It's cruel to white children and will cause them great psychological damage. The publicity that Elliott was getting did not make her popular in Riceville. When she walked into source teachers' lounge the day after her Tonight Show appearance, several other teachers walked out.

When she went downtown to do errands, she heard whispers. When her oldest daughter went to the girls' bathroom in junior high, she came out of a stall to see a hateful message scrawled in red lipstick for her on the mirror. Of all her coworkers, Elliott states that only one of them, Ruth Setka, continued to speak to her after her exercise went public.

Setka said that she realized she was the only one who kept speaking to her. Setka believed that the reason Eliott's exercise got so much backlash was because the students were very young and that the exercise should have been done on at least junior high school aged students. However, Jane Elliott Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment news of her exercise spread, she appeared on more television shows and started to repeat the exercise in professional training days for adults.

Then and Now —about her and the exercise. A televised edition of the exercise was shown in the United Kingdom on October 29,on Channel 4 entitled The Event: How Racist Are You? After the exercise, Elliott said that the result "wasn't as successful as I am accustomed to being. Washingtonand Maria Montessori. Elliott is considered to be the forerunner of diversity trainingwith the Blue-Eyes-Brown-Eyes exercise click the following article the basis of much of what is now called diversity training.

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The Riceville school system granted Elliott unpaid leave to conduct workshops and training that were based on her exercise to organizations outside of her school system. However, the increasing demands to be away from the classroom eventually caused problems with her public school teaching career. This was promoted positively as a way to promote teamwork, profits, and a "winning together" atmosphere. For this corporate exercise, Elliott divides a multiracial group based on the color of their eyes and then subjects the blue-eyed individuals to a withering regime of humiliation and contempt.

In only a few hours, Elliott's treatment makes the blue-eyed workers become distracted and despondent, stumbling over the simplest commands. Companies found the idea of offering such training attractive, not only because in the s and s there were increasing numbers of people of color in their organizations, but also because of U.

Many companies at that time came to see diversity training article source a way to ward off negative legal action and publicity. Elliott said, "If you can't think of read more other reason for getting rid of racism, think of it as a real money saver. Diversity training was little-known in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the s; however, when the Race Relations Amendment Act passed in the UK, it listed diversity training firms in the Diversity Directory.

Many of these courses are designed to have a "lighter touch" than Elliott's approach, but those based solidly on Elliott's model are also promoted. Dean Weaver, who was superintendent of Riceville schools from tothought she was an outstanding teacher who did things differently and made other teachers envious of her success.

Ex-principal Steve Harnack commented that she was excellent at teaching academics Jane Elliott Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment suggested she would have had fewer problems with the community if she had involved parents. I'm tired of hearing about her and her experiment and how everyone here is a racist. Let's just move on. Academic research Jane Elliott Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment Elliott's exercise shows moderate results in reducing long-term prejudice [19] [20] but is inconclusive on the question of whether the possible psychological harm outweighs the potential benefits.

She would conduct the exercise for the nine more years she taught the third grade, and the next eight years she taught seventh and eighth graders before giving up teaching in Riceville, insource to conduct the eye-color exercise for groups outside the school. Setka believed that the reason Eliott's exercise got so much backlash was because the students were very young and that the exercise should have been done on at least junior high school aged students. The "oppressed" don't want to be oppressed and their "oppressors" show little appetite for oppressing. Show 25 25 50 All.

The outcomes of a research study by the Utah State University were that virtually all the subjects reported that the experience was meaningful for them. However, the statistical evidence supporting the effectiveness of the activity for prejudice reduction was moderate; and virtually all the participants, as well as the simulation facilitator, reported stress from the simulation. Another program evaluation inconducted by Tracie Stewart at the University of Georgiashowed that white students got significantly more positive attitudes toward Asian-American and Latino individuals, but only marginally more positive attitudes toward African-American individuals.

Everyone who is exposed to Jane Elliott's work, be it through a lecture, workshop, or video, is dramatically affected by it. It's what we do. This exchange would be useful in a discussion about research methods and ethics, and whether Elliot's workshop inflicts any harm upon the human subjects involved. It provides an examination of the realities of discrimination as experienced by actual students in the classroom of third grade teacher, Jane Elliott, whose demonstration shows how quickly children can succumb to discriminatory behavior. After she segregates the group by eye color, the next phase of the exercise click here to get the brown-eyed group to turn against the blue-eyed group.

It can also lead to anxiety because people become hyper-sensitive about being offensive or being offended. As a result of the research, Murdoch University did not include the Blue-Eyes-Brown-Eyes exercise in their list of successful strategies to reduce racism. Elliott was married to Darald Elliott — from to his death, and has four children. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other people named Jane Elliott, see Jane Elliott disambiguation.

Jane Elliott Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment

Retrieved April 19, Retrieved April 19, — via Newspapers. Retrieved January 13, The University of Iowa Libraries. Retrieved November 14, An Interview with Jane Elliott". Person of The Week Jane Elliott ". Retrieved October 25, Who is on the list? Retrieved December 8, Retrieved March 12, Retrieved May 30, Journal of Applied Social Psychology. An evaluation of the effectiveness of anti-racism strategies ; Prepared by the: Retrieved from " https: Views Read Edit View history.

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