Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011
Rider’s Koppelman Holocaust and Genocide Resource Center will sponsor an airing of the documentary ‘A Class Divided’ on Wednesday, November 9, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Sweigart Auditorium.
by Sean Ramsden
The Julius and Dorothy Koppelman Holocaust and Genocide Resource Center at Rider University will present a film, A Class Divided, on Wednesday, November 9, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Sweigart Auditorium, Room 115. Admission is free.
A Class Divided portrays the reunion of a group of students who had taken part in a bold experiment in 1970. Their teacher, Jane Elliott, wanted to teach her third-graders a lesson in discrimination, so she told them that blue-eyed people were superior to those with brown eyes. The blue-eyes student were furnished with a distinguishing collar and granted special privileges, and were told to ignore the brown-eyed students, who were relegated to the back of the classroom.
When the children initially questioned the concept, Elliott reassured them with a pseudo-scientific explanation maintained that the melanin responsible for making eyes appear blue was also linked to higher intelligence and learning ability. It wasn’t long before Brown witnessed a dramatic change.
“I watched what had been marvelous, cooperative, wonderful, thoughtful children turn into nasty, vicious, discriminating little third-graders in a space of 15 minutes,” recalled Elliott, who said she realized she had “created a microcosm of society in a third-grade classroom.”
A Class Divided, which originally aired as an episode of PBS’s Frontline in 1985, is a follow-up of the 1970 documentary Eye of the Storm, which chronicled Elliott’s experiment.