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A Class Divided

Teaching 3rd grade students about discrimination.

Martin Luther King was a man who began the change for the African American people.  He today is an icon of human rights, and hiss speech I have a dream will be a speech known to all man kind for as long as humans are around. On the 4th of April 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated while he was standing on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel where he was staying. The tragic assassination of Martin Luther King Jr was a shock to the entire world. It was something that adults would find hard to understand let alone children. The day after the death of Martin Luther King a Iowa 3rd grade teacher Jane Elliot was stumbled how to answer questions about the assassination from the 3rd graders. The class of children got into a conversation where Mrs Jane Elliot began to ask her students what she knew about Negro’s Absolutely dumbfounded by the discriminating remarks made by these little children such remarks as “Negros are dumb and can’t hold jobs” She asked her class if they would like to find out what is was like to be a Negro and if they wanted to run a little experiment the kids agreed.

Jane divided her class into two groups blue-eyed people and brown-eyed people. She told her students that blue-eyed people were the superior ones and they are better and smarter then the brown-eyed. She laid down rules that blue-eyed children were allowed a second helping a lunch, they were allowed to play on the jungle gym, drink out of the bubbler and she would praise the blue-eyed children on their work and encouraging them. She made the brown-eyed children wear a ribbon around their neck they had to drink out of a cup and not directly from the bubbler, they were not to play on the jungle gym, they could not have a second plate of food at lunch and they were not to play with the other children on the play ground.

The next Jane put the experiment in reverse telling the children that she was wrong and that in fact the blue-eyed children were not the better and superior one that in fact it was actually the brown-eyed students who were actually better. She told the students with brown eyes to take off the ribbon collar and put the collar on a student with blue-eyes. She revised the rules to the children.

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User Comments
  1. Glassie

    On April 27, 2009 at 3:02 am

    Always a difficult subject – nicely approached.

  2. mannyrich

    On April 27, 2009 at 3:29 am

    nice article. thanks for sharing

  3. Christine Ramsay

    On April 27, 2009 at 7:48 am

    A very interesting article and interesting results.


  4. Evelyn Moore

    On April 27, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    A tricky subject but one worthy of plenty of thought

  5. Luffy12

    On April 28, 2009 at 6:45 am

    that was cool

  6. Mr Ghaz

    On April 29, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    nice ones…must read..thnx for sharing

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