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Jane Elliott’s Experiment in "A Class Divided": Summary

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On April 4, 1968 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated and many people were shocked because of this. “A Class Divided” which is a video tells as what happened on the day after this sad day. Because of this, the third graders’ students who lived in a small and all-white town, Riceville, and Iowa were sad and confused like many people all over the world. Those small kids want to know why someone killed this great person and their teacher, Jane Elliott wants to answer this difficult question by doing an experiment to show her young pupils the horrible effect of discrimination and what it might do to individuals.

“Discrimination is the behavior or actions, usually negative, towards an individual or group of people, especially on the basis of sex/race/social class, etc.” To begin with, she separates her students in two groups depending on their eyes colors. She puts students with blue eyes color in the first group and students with brown eyes color in the second group. After this, she told students with blue eyes color that they are smarter, nicer, and higher than students with brown color. Throughout the day, she allowed them to take longer break and being first in the lunch line. In contrast, she asked her students with brown eyes color to put on collars round their necks, and she started to criticize and ridicule their performance. The next day, she reversed roles by telling students with brown eyes color that they are the best and criticized and ridiculed students with blue eyes color. As a result, what occurred over these two days’ exercise amazed students and Elliott because students who were rating as unskillful behaved as inferior students, but students who were rating as smart and nice behave as discriminating students.

“Social facilitation refers to the positive or negative effect on performance due to the presence of others”. By analyzing Elliott’s practice result, we can note clearly the strong impact of “social facilitation” to these young students. Sometimes, social facilitation affected students in well, and sometimes it affected them adversely, and it all depends on the situation that those students were living with. For instance, when Elliott support her students by telling them that they are clever, they do their best to prove this opinion, but when she ridiculed them, they did not do well.

“Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another”. By doing this experiment Jane Elliott tells us that we can create a racism people easily if we teach our kids wrong bevies such as vanity because of our race and color. This video shows us how to create racism. It starts when someone persuades us that we are distinct because of race or culture, etc. It started from childhood, and it will grow day after day to be like illness.

Because Elliott wants to be sure about the result that she took from this amazing experiment, she did the same practice for her new students, and she gained the same results. Also, she did the stapes to Iowa jail’s employees to know if adults’ behave in a different way, but the adults’ reaction is identical, and the result is corresponding.

As a result, Elliott succeeded to teach her students how to respect each other by showing them the bad effects that occur because of vanity and mockery of others. She tells as how those young kids feel for each other. She said, “The kids stated over and over, ‘We’re type of like a family now. “They determined out how to damage one each and every other and they located out how it feels to be hurt in that way and they refuse to harm one another in that way again”. I think that Jane Elliott sent a strong message to those people who do not believe in equality and judge others according to race or color by giving real examples. She teaches them that we all are human and if we have bad experience with someone, we should not generalize. 

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Jane Elliott’s Experiment in “A Class Divided”: Summary. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
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