anyone remember this little ditty??? “Brown eyes, Blue eyes”. from Jane Elliott??
On April 5, 1968, Jane Elliot implemented the exercise. When her class arrived at school, she asked them what they thought about negroes. the children responded with various racist stereotypical comments such as negroes are stupid and can not keep a job. She then asked the children if they would like to experience the life of a negro child to which the children agreed.
On that day, Elliot decided to make the blue-eyed children the superior ones first, giving them extra privileges like second helpings at lunch, being able to play on the new jungle gym and giving them an extra five minutes at recess.She did not allow the brown-eyed children to drink from the same fountains as the blue-eyed ones. She would offer praise and commendation to the blue-eyes for being hardworking and intelligent while the 'brownies' were treated like rubbish, being continually put down. They also had to wear ribbons around their necks.
At first, there was resistance. Elliot countered this by using a pseudo-scientific explanation stating that the melanin that made blue eyes blue also was responsible for their intelligence and ability. The 'brownies' did not have this pigmentation and therefore lacked these qualities. Shortly thereafter, the resistance faded away. The effects of the criticism led to the blue-eyed children becoming bossy, arrogant and unpleasant towards their 'inferior' classmates. Their grades also improved, doing mathematical and reading tasks that seemed out of their reach before. A transformation also occurred with the brown-eyed children. They turned into into timid and subservient children, including those who had previously been dominant in the class. These children’s academic performance suffered, even with tasks that had been simple before.
The following day, Elliot reversed the exercise, making the brown-eyed children superior. They were not as unpleasant towards the blue-eyed children unlike what the former did to them on the previous day, and it was much less intense. At 2:30 on that Wednesday, Elliot told the blue-eyed children to take off their collars and the children cried and hugged each other. She then told then to write letters to Coretta Scott King and to write compositions about the experience. The exercise changed her life both as a teacher and personally. Her reflections on what she had witnessed would influence how she would approach race relations and teaching. “She had not told her pupils to treat each other differently, only that they were different; and yet they developed the characteristic responses of discrimination. Jane Elliott felt that they did this because they had already absorbed discriminatory behavior from their parents and other adults.” Their willingness to accept the "inferiority" of a group of people was due to the fact that children believe what adults, including teachers, tell them and then follow their examples. However, when the brown-eyed children were ’superior’ they modified their behavior to be much less intense, because they already knew what it felt like to be ‘inferior.’
and there’s more in this article.......