A Class Divided. Pbs Frontline Film

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In the PBS Frontline film A Class Divided a third-grade teacher, Jane Elliot, challenges her student’s perceived views on prejudice, racism, bigotry, and the act of discrimination. Originally conducted in the days following the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Elliott’s “blue eyes/brown eyes” exercise engaged the young children in her class to further explore the concepts of racism and prejudice by segregating the class into two distinct categories, one took the role of the dominant group and to the other group the role of minority was assigned. By then giving them stereotypical labels, the film showcases the impact of discrimination and how negative and positive stereotypes can become self-fulfilling and detrimental. Elliot tells the dominant group of children that they are better, she praises them and provides them with benefits that the minority group is not allowed to partake in. She shows legislative controls in the forced segregation during recess, and by denying the minority group certain rights in the classroom. She also shows marginalization with purposeful deconstruction of the minority groups’ self-esteem, by simply not allowing them to have as much at lunch, or rebuking them constantly with ambiguous statements applied to the group as a whole. The entire exercise also shows how much socialization affects prejudices with the children readily following their teacher’s example and joining in on the categorical thinking being applied to the children in the minority group. It is a successful example of just how much the Social Structure Origin of Prejudice can affect our children and their actions. During the experiment three main types of personalities are shown in what can be defined with Robert Merton’s Prejudice and Discrimination Typology. Some children show immediately that they are prone to being an Active Bigot; some are obviously taking the role of the Timid Bigot. While others who hang back, but still follow the...
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