Running Head: A Class Divided 2
A Class Divided
Independent variable 4
Dependent variables 5
Students behaviour 5
Phonic card exercise 6
Present day Class 7
A class divided experiment was conducted by Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer, and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education. In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Jane developed a controversial and astonishing experiment. This experiment labels participants as inferior or superior based upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority.
The issue of discrimination has been a heated topic throughout the world and the history had witnessed big turnarounds regarding this issue. To enlighten this Jane Elliott performed an experiment called "A Class Divided" on third grade students to teach them about the discrimination and to make them understand what it feels like to experience racism in the United States. The topic of discrimination aroused following the killing of Martin Luther King (Marxist,2018). Jane knew that merely telling her third-graders about discrimination wasn’t enough because the shooting of Martin Luther King was not small incident that could just be talked about or explained away. There was no possible way to explain this to little third-graders about the issue in the real sense. It was Tuesday class in which jane asked her students the meaning of brotherhood “What is brotherhood?” The students answered that it’s about treating everyone like brother. The second question she asked her students: “Is there anyone in this United Stated that we don’t treat as our brothers?” The children answered black people and the Indians. The next question
was “what kinds of things do people say about these people?” One of the students answered” look at the dumb people” and another said something about calling black people Negros or niggers (Frontline). The experiment begun with the concluding question of differentiating people according to their color. For experiment jane divided the class in two groups according to the color of their eyes, blue and brown. The experiment showed that students given superior role were dominating than the student who were given inferior role at different point of the experiment.
The variable that comes first and influences or predicts is called independent variable and the variable that is affected by the independent variable is called dependent variable. The dependent variable is the consequence of the independent variable (McMillan). In the experiment “A Class Divided” the separation of students into two groups, blue eye and brown eye were the independent variable according to which some restrictions were put on them alternatively. The behavior of student during this experiment was the dependent variable which was resulted due to less powers and more powers assigned to them.
The restrictions on the brown eye students and the favourable conditions for the blue eye students were the independent variables. On the first day of the experiment, the students were told that
blued-eyed people are better than brown-eyed people. Jane told students, that brown-eyed students will wear collars, so people could tell who had brown eyes. She told her students that brown-eyed people are slower, dumber, worse listeners, didn’t know how to behave. The students were told that brown-eyed people cannot drink water from the fountain and must drink out of paper cups. Also, they were told that their recess time will be five minutes less in comparison to the recess time of the blue eye children (Frontline). Further they can’t be played with the superior, blue-eyed children.
Jane Elliot noticed that how fast her students turned into nasty, vicious and discriminating little third-graders in the span of fifteen minutes. The blue-eyed children were bullying the brown eye children and even they were teasing about their eyes. The blue eye students were more confident than brown eye students. The next day it was noticed that, a blue-eyed boy forgot his glasses and this hints toward his feeling of superior to his brown-eyed classmates by showing off his blue-eyes. On the second day of the experiment, brown-eyed people were declared superior to the blue-eyed people and the change was noticed. Now the brown eye people were more confident and were behaving in similar manner as the blue eye students behaved on the day one. The blue eye students body language was showing that they are feeling belittle. This shows that the behaviour as well as the confidence is dependent on the superiority and inferiority complex.
Phonic card exercise
On the first day of the experiment, it took the brown eye children representing the minority five and half minutes to get through the phonics card exercise. Whereas it was totally opposite on day two, they were acting as superior people and it took them only two and half minutes for the same exercise. For the blue eye students, the phonic card exercise took three minutes on day one and four minutes on day two. This shows the clear effect of down feeling and low confidence as of being inferior. The measurement of time difference gives how the things get changed after interchange of the roles.
There were number of factors which were ignored before performing the experiment:
The consent of the parents was not taken before the experiment was performed on the students.
The students were not informed about the purpose of the experiment.
The experiment lasted for two days this can affect the minds of the students.
The students were bullying and teasing their classmates.
The privacy was exposed in the experiment.
Present day Class
Jane Elliot’s experiment performed on the grade third student could not be performed in present day because of the non- availability of consent from the parents. At present the parents are more sensitive toward there child and the present set up in schools are more concern toward the student’s wellness physically as well as mentally.
The purpose of experiment can be discussed with the students and this would create another obstacle, by knowing this student might not exhibit their original behaviour. It was the behaviour of the students which made them realize that no one should be discriminated according to their color or race.
The time span for the experiment was two days therefore some external factors such as home or family environment can affect the results of the experiment. On the other hand, if the experiment is performed on the same day the sudden behavioural changes are not expected.
The experiment about discrimination was accompanied with problems like bullying and teasing. This can continue after the experiment is over, even if we tell the students that it was only up to the time when the experiment was performed. Some students continue to do so, and which can leave others in desolate.
The identity of the students was needed to be confidential, but the complete information of the participants was given in the experiment. This is again an ethical issue which can’t be ignored at the present.
McMillan, J. H. (2016). Fundamentals of Educational Research (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.