The purpose of this paper is to synthesize the interpersonal reflection after viewing the given video, i.e., “The Class Divided”. The video is based on the exploration of the nature of prejudice. It has been established that in this video, Jane Elliott, a third-grade teacher intentionally developed a specific situation. The situation was mainly aimed at teaching the students about the feeling of feeling discriminated, on the basis of ethnicity, race, gender, orientation, etc. The given video is found to be the repeated representation of the classic documentary on the exercise of Jane Elliott, i.e., “blue eyes/brown eyes”. Jane Elliott devised this exercise just after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that was held in 1968 (Horowitz, 2007).
The classic classroom experiment was performed during the period of the late 1960s. The experiment was designed to identify and describe that how easily and quickly school children can adopt the behavior of discrimination and prejudice. The present study is also intended to present the illustration of the lessons that I have learned from the film, in terms of different dimensions of diversity. In addition to this, the paper is also aimed at assessing the necessity of treating others in a respectful and sensitive manner. The first part of the assignment is based on the personal reflection about the ideas and themes that are discussed in the video. However, an interview is conducted in the second part of the paper. In this regard, I will have a conversation with a person who has faced discrimination to understand their views about discrimination.
When I watched the given video, i.e., “A Class Divided”, I came to know that our society is still composed of several people who practice prejudice and discrimination. In the entire movie, the scene that caught my attention was the one in which Jane Elliott said that “Oh Great Spirit, keep me from every judging a man until I have walked a mile in his moccasins” (Peters, 1985). The scene played an inevitable and indispensable role in developing my understanding that being judgmental towards people is not an appropriate way. I also came to know that one should never become judgmental towards others, as far as he/she does not know the facts behind the situation. By watching the scene of the kid, I have perceived that a person works well when he/she has positive thinking patterns and is confident on himself.
The scene of the film that I remember includes the one in which Jane Elliott conducted the test on the adults. It was quite interesting and shocking for me to perceive the adults in the circumstances where they had to face intense discrimination. I believe that scene has clearly represented the situation and feelings of the majority of the African Americans, which are usually faced by them on a daily basis. I also got surprised by another scene in which one group of the kids started to act like they are the strongest ones and only they have the power. The sense of superiority in those kids eventually led them to become enemies of their friends, without having the feeling of regret. In my opinion, the approach of Jane Elliott’s of teaching these kids about racism and discrimination was commendable. It is due to the fact that this approach of Jane Elliott resolved the query of the students, i.e., “why Martin Luther King was assassinated?”. In one scene, two students started fighting with each other during the recess. When the teacher asked those boys if violence could resolve their issue and make them feel better, they responded that violence can never make them happy. The situation ultimately led me to develop an understanding that violent behavior is a waste of energy and time. The preceding paper has included the prayer of Jane Elliott that shows that being judgmental is not an appropriate practice. I have observed that the prayer was related to the blue/brown eyes exercise. The exercise was intended to teach the kids that nobody is different from another, and all human beings are equal. Therefore, we should not judge others, as far as we have also faced the same situation in life.
Now, a question arises in a mind that should such exercises and session be conducted with all children?. In my opinion, such practices are so effective, in terms of enabling the children to understand that all humans are same and must be treated equally. These exercises play a major role in developing the understanding of children about the fact that people may differ in social status or ethnicities, but we all live on the same planet. I think such exercises make kids understand that how it feels to be discriminated and how it feels when a person is not in power. In other words, I can say that these exercises and sessions allow the kids to understand that they must treat others as they want to be treated by other people.
I have observed that in the given video, the kids did not show any violent or disobedient behavior during the entire session. On the other hand, when the same exercise was carried out with the adults, they also showed the same behavior and unsurprisingly did not argue with Jane Elliott. Despite the fact that Jane Elliott was expressing extremely cruel and negative comments about people; the adult participants did not negate her views. I have recognized that the adults must be thinking that their arguments are useless and would worsen the situation. The action verifies the thinking of the kids, according to which fighting or arguing brings more problems, instead of resolving the actual one. After viewing this documentary, I have perceived, when a person feels discriminated, he/she feel disappointed and hopeless. In these situations, a person also thinks that his/her words and opinions are worthless, even if they are expressed. Although discrimination is not severe as it was in the past years, it is still present in our society, and it needs to be handled adequately.
Self-fulfilling prophecy has become one of the most common practices of our society. People usually put negative and positive labels on people to discriminate them, on the basis of ethnicity, disabilities, sexual orientation, etc. (Flint & Robinson, 2008). For instance, a person who belongs from Christianity usually thinks that homosexuals will go to hell, and they are not good people. Such discriminative opinions have become the self-fulfilling prophecies of our society that are considerably disrupting the entire social environment. I have learned that these perceptions have played a major role in isolating people even from their family, friends, and peers.
Apart from this, it has also been established that the dimensions of diversity are continually changing. One of the greatest reasons behind this flux includes the transitions in the nature and attitude of people and their overall environment. For example, when a boy is at her workplace he acts as being a very responsible and proficient person, but at the same time, he acts like as a pampered child at home. Such situations show that the dimensions of diversity are in constant state of flux. Moreover, I have also learned that the dimensions of diversity cannot be defined easily or in a clear-cut manner (Iroegbu, 2013). It is due to the fact that different people have different perceptions about diversity. Some people consider race and ethnicity as the dimension of diversity. However, others perceive diversity as personal characteristics, sexual orientation, age, ethnic background, marital status, educational background, etc.
In order to establish a more cohesive understanding of discrimination, I had decided to organize a conversation session with a person who has personally faced discrimination. In this regard, I have selected Mr. Kim, who is currently working at the renowned IT Company, which is based in the United States. Mr. Kim is a 55 years old network engineer and has faced age-based discrimination during the job interviews. I approached Mr. Kim after reviewing his experiences that he posted on a social media website. From his reviews, I came to know that the employers are discriminating him on the basis of age, and various companies did not even considered him for an interview. Before starting an interview, I tried to share all information that I have seen and learned in the Class Divided program. I told Kim that how Jane Elliott made children understood about the discrimination, by the help of different examples and actions. Afterward, I also invited Kim to watch that program so that he can easily understand different discriminatory situations that could happen in the life of an individual. After accomplishing all of these activities, I asked different questions to Kim, which are included in the proceeding manuscript along with the responses.
Me: Have you ever experienced discrimination? If yes, then please share your experience.
Kim: I have years of experience in network designing and controlling. After getting retired from my job, I started to search another job to earn my livelihood. I used to think that I will get an appropriate job as I have extensive proficiencies and experience in the field. However, I forgot that age discrimination will create hurdles in the achievements of my life goals. During the interviews, I observed that the employers usually take more interest in the age of the candidate, instead of his/her experiences. When I was sitting behind the interview panel of the most famous and leading multinational company, the interviewer asked me whether I am aware of the new technological developments. In addition to this, another person asked me if I could do field work as I am not young and energetic. At the end of the interview, the board rejected me by saying that I am not up to the criteria, as they need to hire a young person. The situation was so distressing for me, as they were solely concerned about my age and were not considering my skills and past working experiences.
Me: How have you coped with the situation?
Kim: In order to cope with the situation, I started to highlight talk about my present skills and capabilities, instead of quoting the past experiences. In other words, I started to talk about my experience and skills that may help the employers in achieving their goals. In addition to this, I took the entire situation very positively and showed my willingness of trying and learning new things. I had also started to clarify it to the employers that I might be the most aged person who is interviewing for this position, but I have more experience than others. Though I got disappointed several times, but I have never lost hope.
Me: What is your opinion about the changes that could bring at the cultural level to reduce discrimination?
Kim: I believe people should understand that all human beings were created on the basis of equality. No one has the right to judge or discriminate others, on the basis of ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, origin, gender, etc. I think different campaigns and programs should be organized for the counseling of people. Additionally, educational institutions also hold the responsibility to teach children about equality and fairness, while making them understand about the cruelty of the discriminative behavior. I perceive schools should also organize the exercises, like “The Class Divided” to increase the awareness regarding discrimination and its impacts on the person who is being discriminated.
Conclusively, from the entire course, I have learned that we can easily advocate the individuals, who are facing discrimination, by showing empathy and making them feel that they are also an active part of the community. In this regard, I will serve as an advocate those who face discrimination by boosting their confidence through proper counseling and by organizing collaborative sessions and exercises, similar to “The Class Divided”.
Ahmed, S. (2007). The language of diversity. Ethnic and racial studies , 30 (2).
Flint, J., & Robinson, D. (2008). Community cohesion in crisis: new dimensions of diversity and difference. Bristol: Policy Press.
Horowitz, F. (2007). Jane Elliott and her Blue-Eyed Devil Children. Retrieved from http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=1019
Iroegbu, E. (2013). The KPIM of Social Order: A Season of Social Uprising. Bloomington: Xlibris Corporation.
Peters, W. (1985, March 26). A Class Divided. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/class-divided/