A Class Divided

A Class Divided

1985, Psychology  -   111 Comments
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Ratings: 8.37/10 from 376 users.

Elliott divided her class by eye color -- those with blue eyes and those with brown. On the first day, the blue-eyed children were told they were smarter, nicer, neater, and better than those with brown eyes.

Throughout the day, Elliott praised them and allowed them privileges such as a taking a longer recess and being first in the lunch line. In contrast, the brown-eyed children had to wear collars around their necks and their behavior and performance were criticized and ridiculed by Elliott.

On the second day, the roles were reversed and the blue-eyed children were made to feel inferior while the brown eyes were designated the dominant group. What happened over the course of the unique two-day exercise astonished both students and teacher.

On both days, children who were designated as inferior took on the look and behavior of genuinely inferior students, performing poorly on tests and other work.

Directed by: William Peters

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Susan
Susan
3 years ago

I think she should explained to these kids is that blacks are called names because of the way the ACT not their color of the skin. ACT like a decent person and blacks will not be talked about.

Taylor Ball-Myderwyk
Taylor Ball-Myderwyk
4 years ago

I have watched this documentary easily over 50 times now. I've watched it multiple times every year I've been in school and every year afterwards. It does not compare to the discrimination that people of colour endure on a daily basis, but it can help put into perspective how much worse peoples lives could be if they had to not only worry about the things that they do on a daily basis but also worry about the colour of their skin and how other people would react all at the same time. People can't choose the colour of their skin just like we can't choose if we need oxygen. We need to not only teach the children, but we must also inform every single person on the planet the power that discrimination has. If we rid prejudice from adults first, then children should naturally be born without it. We have a duty to the people that come after us, to leave them a safe, inclusive, world to live in. 

aaynur
aaynur
4 years ago

I really like the film. She deserves an award for doing her job with love and teaching her students to love everyone

Raymond Jones
Raymond Jones
5 years ago

I've lived with being different most of my life; due to disabilities. While I think this was a brilliant teaching tool; it pained me to watch it; so I didn't even make it through the 1st 'day'.

claire
claire
5 years ago

This woman was BRILLIANT !

The Revival
The Revival
5 years ago

When a person hears the word prejudice, he or she might think it only refers to the racial prejudice often found between those with light skin and those with dark skin. However, prejudice runs much deeper than a person’s color. Prejudice is found between gender, religion, cultural and geographical background, and race. People have discriminated against others based upon these attributes from the beginning of time. Prejudice has become a complex problem in our society today and much of our world’s history is based upon such hatred.

If everyone in this world had respect for one another, we would live in peace and be able to let others believe in what they wish and accept that everyone is different. I believe it all comes down to parents teaching their children right from wrong in our world and raising them in an environment that is centered around acceptance of different ways of life and cultures of people. If we all teach our children and change our ways, sometime in our future we will be closer to accepting that a man’s character is based upon the content of his soul, not his religion, gender, ethnicity, or the color of his skin.

The Revival
The Revival
5 years ago

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his/her piont of view-
until you climb into there skin and walk around in it". from To Kill A Mockingbird

Translation: it requires great courage to try on the proverbial shoes of others, to try to walk around in there skin. its difficult but important to try to empathize across the barriers of sex, class, race, and religion.

American minority
American minority
6 years ago

Now you understand why Trump wants to end PBS. Might lead to documentaries like this...

Pagan Mace
Pagan Mace
7 years ago

I think she should add a ginger to see if it changes the experiment ...

Tamakloe
Tamakloe
7 years ago

Well Mattg , so yes the children were encouraged to answer a certain way and yes Jane Elliot (for the sake of this argument) was extreme and unkind to the young minds and hearts that were placed trustingly in her care... i guess the average privilaged person who grows up feeling privilaged is left to organically decide to be racist and privilleged with only the most subtle and loving urges... you obviously have yet to make an unbiased and more thorough analysis of the experiment and the real world.

zool
zool
7 years ago

Listen people, these are children with undeveloped brains, if you can relate so well in your suffering philosophies then that is a personal problem that you are rooted in, quit pretending that you are sooo controlled, that in itself is what is controlling you.... you are a grown adult that is free, quit running around feeding off your own dreamscapes.

zool
zool
7 years ago

@LadyG0726

It is obvious that you are so caught up in your self that you never have bothered to see that you are free..... you are now a slave to your own philosophies.... you keep yourself "in place."

Penny
Penny
8 years ago

The experiment spoke to me much more profoundly than a racial divide. It'll it was more about on such a short amount of time.. They crushed the self esteem and character of the child. Imagine on a daily basis year after year of hearing how I wish you were never born etc . Can take many many years of undoing as an adult. To me.. I never saw this as a racial issue.

LadyG0726
LadyG0726
8 years ago

First of all the contributory nexus for creating this experiment was the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the day previous. This experiment works on adults and children to this day, as Dr. Elliot has now performed this same experiment internationally. It, in my opinion, is how we need to train our law enforcement and persons of authority. Oprah Winfrey performed a similar experiment by having a sort of Invisible Man theme, where a caucasian young man was made to take pigment enhancing medication and wear contacts to see how Blacks were treated. As such, he got to interact with former friends and neighbors who did not know who he was thus clearly exhibiting their racism towards him. He could not take it psychologically. After four days, he needed to quit. His neighbors that were cordial to him called him racial slurs. He never noticed the slurs and disparaging speech they used towards other races before he was another race.

Sadly, until we walk in the shoes of another, we can not truly empathize and understand the individual's journey. Thankfully, we still have Dr. Elliot. She performs this same experiment on those who believe that the Civil Rights struggle should be inclusive of equal rights for sexual equality. She shows how the two struggles are not the same, as Blacks continue to see desparity and inequality daily. As Blacks start each and every struggle, other groups that attach their own separate agendas to the Black Civil Rights struggle, see their individual struggles addressed more easily and more easily than those that originally started the Civil Rights Movement, the African American. Same-sex relationships are more accepted in society. To say or show otherwise, constitutes a "hate crime." To make anti-Semitic statements, even even in jest, is considered a "hate crime," yet shooting Blacks in their backs is not. Following a young man carrying nothing more than a bag of Skittles and an iced tea to hunt and murder that young man is not considered a hate crime, but an act of self defense. Even when the young man was clearly stalked like an animal of prey before his death. Paula Deen admits to having used the "n" word when asked, but was never heard to say it. Her career took a sharp turn, but not a terminal turn. Justin Bieber was clearly heard saying the word repeatedly and yet he was allowed to say an insincere "mea culpa" and move on with his life. Both careers should have ended the same way. It proves Black lives only matter as a slogan, not as a matter of fact. It would be quite lovely if the society that enjoys the culture of the African American could clearly love the people from which the rich culture emanates. For without that culture, America could not claim Jazz as its only musical contribution to the world. Nor would it be able to claim Country (which is merely blues), R&B, Hip-Hop, Rap, Soul. I could go on infinitum and never even scratch the surface. Instead, society chooses to state that the cultural gifts that African Americans, African descendants bring belong to everyone. Yet, those that it truly belongs to are not the ones to advantageously monetize that culture. Making a profit from the culture and the possibility of making money belongs to everyone, but not the culture.

Sadly, Blacks do not learn from history, yet they continually repeat it. Once released from slavery, the promised 40 acres and a mule, never manifested. We continue to seek the favor of those that oppress us by allowing them to imitate, emulate and recreate our culture for their own gain daily, thus creating our own future obselescence. The writing is clearly on the wall. Let's not forget the Macklemore debacle where a white group took all of the honors for hip hop and the cultural descendants of those to whom the culture belongs were, well, honestly, shafted.

This wil continue to happen. When history is finally written in the end, Blacks will not be the creators, but whites will list themselves as the creators of our history. Yet again, we will be cheated of our heritage and legacy. It is like the plantation. The Blacks create the product and the whites get paid from the fruits of our labor. We see it every day when we watch shows like TMZ. The entire staff of young whites copying and emulating every rich cultural expression and making it lame. They even go so far as to laugh at the Black staffers that lack full and proper command of grammar. Again, that lack of grammar (education) as a result of racism manifested in educational systems not meant to embrace, but to defame and/or bastardize the non-Eurocentric vantage point.

Yes, Dr. Elliot continues to shed a light in this dark world. I hope that we are not so blind that we fail to see. Worldwide, her methodologies continue to change lives. I am waiting for the day we learn to use it for all to grow up. By the way, the children in the original April 5, 1968 1968 speak of how it has made them better people to this day. Now that is how education is supposed to be--lifelong and profound.

Tom Carberry
Tom Carberry
9 years ago

This shouldn't surprise anyone who has studied the history of US schools. Horace Mann created the American public school system, modeled after that created by Frederick the Great of Prussia. Frederick wanted obedient subjects and he got them.

And the rich who financed Mann wanted the same. And they got it.

More than anything else, school teaches a child two things -- to obey authority and to believe authority.

Both play an enormous role in controlling the masses. And the more education a person gets, the more obedient to and believing in authority.

So in the upper classes which contain the highest level of educated people, everyone believes absolutely in their own superiority and the merit of their position.

School, especially higher education, teaches smart people how to control and abuse the "lesser" people.

In a decent society the smart and strong would help the weak. But we don't live there.

nestor
nestor
9 years ago

i like what the women says (50 min)

Matuvo Namikaze
Matuvo Namikaze
9 years ago

wow...i'm sure japanese or chinese kids woul;d have been much smarter than that, and would have stuck up for each other against the teacher

gwhosubex
gwhosubex
9 years ago

I wanted to scream in righteous satisfaction of this person's efforts, and in rage at the current system holding back something so sensible... The win-win situation is so easily perceived, yet a--holes choose win-lose domination.

The people on top prevent this all out of conflict of interest, gain, lack of introspection. It is precisely the lack of this understanding and exercise that the people on top not rolling this kind of teaching out are doing exactly that.

redzz
redzz
10 years ago

can someone be nice enough to answer them for me?

redzz
redzz
10 years ago

i have a few questions about this experiment

Leslie Payne Simmons-Hale
Leslie Payne Simmons-Hale
10 years ago

I think several years ago John Stossel (I think that's who it was) did a documentary on how boys are called on more than girls in school. The teachers do it subconsciously.

Congo Parker
Congo Parker
11 years ago

Very Powerful Doc. !

Aud Rosu The Red Hearer
Aud Rosu The Red Hearer
11 years ago

great documentary!

Francis Katabarwa
Francis Katabarwa
11 years ago

may god bless the world. this is very powerful and this exercise should still be done in many places around the would.

AUWR
AUWR
11 years ago

Isn't it sad that i think that this exercise should still be done in many places around the globe?

Amalie
Amalie
11 years ago

When i meet people who seem racist or comes from familys where parents have told you (and media) that black do more bad stuff, i always ask "what if we all got the same skin color, oke? who is the bad guy? how do you sort out now? i think its the fear, easier to point fingers telling, hey its because he is black, hey its because he got a mental illness, people get a shock as soon they tell "he was a normally family guy" then you cant point fingers, damn what do we do then?
I got a mental illness, that learned me to think about racism, how awfull it is to hear in news when they point out "a black person (then the crime", they never say "a white person (then the crime" why is that?
I begin feeling victim, and its hard to accept and realized how evil some can be and how judgin.
Mental ill is dangerous, that you hear from media and movies.
Interesting enough, I lost friends i always known, when i got diagnosed and told them about it.
Now its so important for me to step up and open peoples eyes here. Before i got the diagnosis, i listen to news and pointed fingers aswell, it learned me so much, im happy about that, ofc also hard that im now aswell so much stigmatized, its horible feeling.
But i feel a better person today :)

megan
megan
11 years ago

what about green eyed people??

LarrytheLayman
LarrytheLayman
12 years ago

Similar experiments like this have been carried out with similar results. I remember reading about one, when they had a bunch of people, split the group in two, had one bunch be the prisoners, the other bunch be the guards. I think it was after something like 4 days or so they had to stop the experiement. Something similar happened a fair few years ago, but this was televised. It was on the BBC or channel 4 called The Experiment. That too had to be cancelled after so many days. Just placing someone in an environment is enough to have them act like the environment dictates.

zaphodity
zaphodity
12 years ago

Excellent teacher.

MattG
MattG
12 years ago

Unfortunately, this is shoddy science that has never been reproduced in any peer-reviewed research. The test itself has no predictive value and is susceptible to manipulation by the test giver which is precisely what we see in this film. Elliot not so subtley helps and hinders the children's responses in accordance with the results she wants to hear. There is a reason why this kind of flashcard nonsense is not the way that tests with the greatest correlations with future academic achievement are done.

Shoddy, feel-good, self-serving nonsense.

g isaac
g isaac
12 years ago

I saw this years ago. It is still very powerful to me.

jbriggs_87
jbriggs_87
12 years ago

this movie was beautiful and i feel that i grew as a person and learned alot by watching it. Imagine black people were intelligent and motivated enough to enjoy this type of thing, we could all watch it together and really learn alot

Lilis Marliani
Lilis Marliani
12 years ago

I was speechless. I have been living through this discrimination, not by color of eyes but by faith in my country in Indonesia. I'm a teacher and thinking is there anything I could do to help my students growing into a more fair and impartial society. It is really an inspiring experiment.

Nadia S
Nadia S
12 years ago

one of my favorites, for sure, 5 stars...

Justin Lesniewski
Justin Lesniewski
12 years ago

as excruciating as this is to watch, its a lesson that should be taught to everyone...at a young age. So that we can utterly destroy discrimination, injustices, elitism, inequality...social darwinism...

Reina Avila
Reina Avila
12 years ago

Reminds me of the book, The Wave, based on a true story of a similar experiment.

lovejo
lovejo
12 years ago

soooooooooo excellent!!!! God bless all! WE ARE ALL ONE HEART ONE LOVE!!All beloved ANGELS support all these teachers who educate our precious children to know the equalness of all , and only judge oneself and others on our own actions and behavior towards mankind! oneheart

nyhaw
nyhaw
12 years ago

what was the precursor to jane elliot remarkable lesson?

yurushi
yurushi
12 years ago

Thank you so much for that brilliant documentary!

C' Aira Carter
C' Aira Carter
13 years ago

Wonder what the U.S. today would be like if this was done in every school? hmm.

Kylieann
Kylieann
13 years ago

Great documentary!! Shows how easily thoguhts and hatred can be brought into someone's life. As is pointed out, this applies to racism, however it also applies to any other aspect of our lives. Who hasn't know of a child's thoughts altered to fit the adult's explination? Makes you question the true start of your religious affiliations...

Shasta
Shasta
13 years ago

This is actually illegal to run a copy of this copyrighted video program online.

We can all be concerned about racism. But what about theft?

duck
duck
13 years ago

I wonder what kind of future political correctness will forge??

Madison
Madison
13 years ago

Rachel, green eyes went in the "blue" eye group.

Maya
Maya
13 years ago

It is an extraordinary excellent documentary. I strongly believe that the essence of all kinds of injustices is discrimination. You could see that it is all around the world

If discrimination will be remove from our life , we will see he peace around the world,

Brennan
Brennan
13 years ago

personally I think this experiment should be conducted in all elementary schools...

ASHU
ASHU
13 years ago

This documentary is so good with best material....

platoson
platoson
13 years ago

I didn't think the teacher would be able to pull the same stunt with adults, so was surprised at how well she acted with the prison staff so much so that she was getting some of them really pissed off. A great experiment, though as she herself said, hopefully one day we won't need such a test.

Platoson
Platoson
13 years ago

fascinating! what a brave and innovative teacher, good doc.

Rachel
Rachel
13 years ago

What about the ones with green eyes?