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A Class DividedDocumentary Film:A Class DividedCUNY City College1
A Class DividedImagine we are living in a world of harmony where there is no discrimination, no stereotype, no prejudice and no segregation. A place where there is no sexism, racism, and classism, and no social pressure that oppresses or looks down upon one group or another. Many people think that this may disturb the social order and result in a less competitive society with less people being motivated. However, the consequences of the person or group that is being discriminated against are significant; stereotypes and discriminations can insult their pride and injure their self-esteem. In the documentary film, A Class Dividedmodeled micro classism in a third grade classroom and its effect on students’ performance, self-esteem, self-confident, etc. According to the definition of social psychology, people’s behavior is not only defined by their thinking, but also how they influence and relate to one another. All these factors affect people’s mental processes and physical behaviors.In the film, A Class Divided, Jane Elliott conducted an experiment with third graders in a small town in Iowa after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Elliott’s goal was to teach the children about discrimination and stereotypes. This experiment provided an experience for those little third graders to remember the feelings of being discriminated against by dividing them based on the colors of their eyes. Hopefully, the lesson would benefit their livesfor good.The experiment lasted for two school days. The thinking piece of social psychology came into play when people’s behavior and attitudeinteracted. On the first day, Elliott announced that blue-eyed people are superior to the brown-eyed people. When told that the brown-eyed people were lazier, not hardworking, and slower, the blue-eyed people implicitly perceived that anyone who was lazy, not hardworking and slow were brown-eyed people, even without analyzing or reasoning. For example, when Elliott told the students to open up the book, a brown-eyed girl was slow to get ready. The self-conceptof whom someone thinks they are played a role before a 2
A Class Dividedblue-eyed boy interacted and said, “She is a brown-eyed” (Peters, 1985).The importance of the self-concept determined his attitude and therefore predicted his behavior.According to the killing begets killing theory, hate also begets hate. On Tuesday afternoon, two students were involved in a fight; one had a blue eyes and the other one had brown eyes. When asked why they got into a fight, the blue-eyed boy replied, “Because he has brown eyes” (Peters, 1985).The blue-eyed boy did not hate the brown-eyed boy before their teacher, Elliott, told them that blue-eyed people are smarter. It was after they were given this information, the blue-eyed students felt superior and different from those with the brown eyes.