Jane Elliot's Experiment

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A Divided Class

From the moment our country was created, one of the main liberties we asked for was the idea of equality, “that all men will be created equal.” Although this has been a part of the American ideal since 1776, American’s have not fulfilled this liberty. Individuals do not admit it, but many are still prejudice against minorities, particularly African Americans. In the 1960’s, around the time when Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting for civil rights for people of color, a 3rd grade school teacher, Jane Elliot, from Riceville, Iowa was busy at work in an attempt to recreate the negative emotional and physical effects of racism within her classroom. She created an experiment in which she divided her students into unequal groups as a way of creating artificial stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination. Jane Elliot eventually expanded her experiments into the adult population. She has done these experiments on corrections workers in prisons, as well as college students. Through all these experiments, Jane Elliot has made many conclusions and generalizations that can directly relate back to the real world, and hopefully aid in solving the problem of racism.

Jane Elliot’s experimentation with stereotypes first began within the walls of her 3rd grade classroom. Before the experiment began she asked the students for their opinions on minority groups. Many of the students answered with statements regarding black people as being dumb and different than whites. They also discussed how African Americans do not have the same opportunities as white people do because of the color of their skin. Jane Elliot continued by effectively dividing the students into unequal groups based on eye color. From the initial division, Jane Elliot treated the students in the brown eyed group as if they were inferior to those in the blue eyed group. She set a vast amount of boundaries limiting what those in the bottom could do, and in contrast expanding what...
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