I can’t lie…or at least I’m not a very good liar. I love Jane Elliot and the work she has done, the work she continues to do, how she does it, and her legacy.
Who’s Jane Elliot and why should you give a hang?
Jane Elliot (http://www.janeelliott.com) is an American teacher, who, during the 1960s, taught children anti-racism classes (although unbeknownst to the children for most for of the duration of the “experiment”) in her third grade classes.
The children were told that those with blue eyes were superior to those with brown eyes; and that the blue eyed children would be allowed more play time and receive other perks as well – since, of course, they were not as messy or as slow as the brown-eyed children.
After a little while, the brown eyed children were forced to wear special collars, and were more regularly mocked and derided by blue eyed students for perceived flaws and slovenly character traits.
If a brown eyed child make a mistake or was slow or cried, it would be pointed out that it was because of that child’s inferior state of being. S/he couldn’t help it, because sh/e was just naturally inferior, anyway.
Jan Elliot is a pioneer in what is now called “diversity training,” or “sensitivity training,” before it existed as now know it.
Undoubtedly, Jane Elliot could not teach children her anti-racism instruction in today’s private or parochial schools without eventually having some manner of legal action taken against her-and certainly she has (and continues to) receive negative or misunderstood reactions to what she’s trying to inculcate in (now) adults.
She came to the conclusion eventually that racism and prejudice are indeed taught, but that also, more importantly, that what can be taught can also be un-taught…at least to some extent.
If you’d like to learn more about Jane Elliot’s experiences in teaching “anti-racism” and how she does it, watch the videos below. The videos below only show the proverbial tip of the iceberg in terms of the work and commitment Ms. Elliott has shown toward trying to end taught racism.
Here are the links to her videos on YouTube:
And here’s a very brief interview with Ms. Elliott, someone who felt something sincere from her soul and decided to take radical action about it, and keep doing it: