When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Iowa third grade teacher Jane Elliot wanted to think of an effective way to teach her students about discrimination. To teach these youngsters, who were all Caucasian, about the harmful effects of discrimination and how it felt to be discriminated against, she decided to divide the class between blue eyes and brown eyes. On the first day of the experiment she told the class that blue eyed people were smarter and better, and that the brown eyed children had to wear collars, could not drink out of the water fountain, can could not play with the blue eyed children. The brown eyed children did not perform as well on classwork and one even hit a blue eyes boy for calling him ‘brown-eyes.’ The next day the teacher said she lied and it was really the brown eyed people who were better. This time, the brown eye children performed better on classwork and enjoyed their day more.
The teacher presented no evidence that there was a difference in the students because of their eye colors or that one group was actually better than the other. Because of the mere statement that one group was better, either the blue eyes group or the brown eyed group, this affected the way the students felt about themselves, the way the students felt about the other students, the way the students performed on classwork, and the way the students conducted themselves. This clearing illustrated the negative effects of discrimination which has no clear evidentiary based, however, the fact that society treats one race or class of people better has a negative effect on other races and classes.
- Peters, William. “A Class Divided, Then and Now, Expanded Edition.” Yale University Press.
Web. 2 November 2014.
- White, Ruth. “A Class Divided: How We Learn to Discriminate.” Psychology Today. 16 May
2014. Web. 2 November 2014.