Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jane Elliott - Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes

Do any of you use/discuss Jane Elliott's "Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes" demonstration? I always had mixed feelings when I discussed it in my classes. She sometimes called it an experiment, but there are obviously no controls, not much controlled analysis of the data, etc. And the ethics are iffy - I worried about the unseen impact on some of her students. But it can be a great way to start important conversations about prejudice. This article provides some very recent information about Jane Elliott's ideas about the impact of her work. Responses? Any of you use this activity or something similar to it?


Steve said...

I showed this earlier this year to my African-American history class as we concluded the civil rights era. The footage of Elliott's classroom didn't resonate as much as I hoped - I think it was a little too outdated, maybe. My students did ask great questions about why it was being filmed and what affect the camera crews might have had on what happened, as well as ethical concerns about how the parents might have reacted. They were much more into the follow-up session Jane Elliott did later for "A Perfect Storm" with adults in a hotel meeting room, where she divided them into groups by eye color and the adults really "fought" with her.

Anonymous said...

For high school students, the original classroom exercise, Eye of the Storm, is probably the most effective version of the brown eyes, blue eyes exercise.. We've had the School District locally use one of the adult versions - Complete Blue Eyed - with great success. They've also used the facilitation resource - Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes: Linking Performance and Perception - to move the exercise from awareness into action in the workplace(available from www.trainerstoolchest.)
Still very, very powerful.