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Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Class Divided

Here is a snippet of a Class Divided. My good friend Ian sent me a link to the 55 minute Google video here. It is an amazing documentary about Jane Elliot’s action research. Children are taught about discrimination by being assigned “top dog” and “under dog” roles according to the colour of their eyes. It's a piece of experiential learning that radically changes the attitudes of the children involved. Not sure it would be passed by the ethics committee these days!

The children developed their prejudices quickly, causing a great deal of distress for their peers in the process. It transpired that the status of the children had a great impact on their academic performance. By the end of the experiment the children had increased empathy for people experiencing discrimination and had bonded as a group. In this documentary Elliot  takes her message to a prison and the prison staff are shown attending a workshop none of them will ever forget!


  1. Hi John
    great that you are making this more widely available. For me, the film talks to the idea of 'conditions of worth' - that we all grow up having / needing / being programmed / wanting to behave in certain ways (which may not be our true ways) in order to gain the attention / approval / 'love' (is is love ?) of significant others in our lives. And this film made an indelible impression on me decades ago when I first viewed it, and 'got 'how insidiously signigicant-other messages can be interiorised - and acted on. Phew ! - best wishes, Ian

  2. There is a problem with the videos in this post, but you can watch the programme here: