HUMN 330 – Module 2 Discussion: Are We Still Divided? Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes: A 3
Grade Lesson for Us All
Following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Jane Elliot struggled with how to
teach the detrimental effects of discrimination to her 3rd grade class in rural Iowa. In 1970, she
embarked on the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment, in which she hoped to instill in these young
students a sense of the power of inequality and prejudice to hurt and divide. Footage of the
experiment was first broadcast in 1970 as an ABC documentary, "The Eye of the Storm." Later,
in 1985 it aired as a Frontline episode entitled, "A Class Divided," which included follow-up
interviews with the grown children from Elliot’s 3rd-grade class. After her teaching career, Jane
Elliot became an anti-racism activist and a diversity educator. She continues to offer workshops
and training sessions based on the early experiment.
Thoughtfully reflect on the issues discussed in the video you watched. In your discussion,
address the following points:
What was your initial reaction to viewing the footage of this experiment?
What values and ethical issues did the experiment express?
Do you think the experiment was effective? Why or why not?
Do you think it was an appropriate exercise for a 3rd-grade class at that time in history?
Why or why not?
Do you think a similar type of experiment would be appropriate today? Why or why not?