The many biases created by human inventions strongly impact the social mindfulness of individuals. What is “real” is based on a person’s reality and perspective. In the scenes from, A Class Divided, there were a lot of dynamics happening at once. What was real for the kids was based on what was happening in their group, and it didn’t seem to matter if their group was favored, or “on top” or not favored or “on the bottom”. The concept of “individual” actually began to draw more to the “group” rather than the “person.”
In the video you had the division of blue-eyed and brown-eyed third graders into “groups”; the treatment of the two groups; and their reactions and feelings to the treatment being documented all at once. As a third grader, you really have little experience of the “real world”, but these kids got a whole lot of it in two days and didn’t even know it. There was the presentation of self-reflection or “the looking glass self”, and as discussed in ISL, the kids “possessed a self only in relation to the selves of the other members of their group.” The all experienced unfairness, judging, and loneliness, eventually. The idea of what was “real” changed for each group as the level of fairness, equality and “social mindfulness” changed.
In the beginning, all the kids gave their definition of what racism was and told Elliot that they really didn’t know what it meant to be discriminated against. Being the teacher and the authority figure, Elliot was able to convince them that blue-eyed kids are better than brown-eyed kids. And then Elliot went on to create the two groups on which the kids would be discriminated against. Elliott gave the blue-eyed kids privileges such as a taking a longer recess and being first in the lunch line. Meanwhile, the brown-eyed kids had to wear collars around their necks and Elliott criticized their behavior and performance very seriously.
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On the first day, the brown-eyed kids were really down and upset. One of the little kids said, “It seems like when you are down on the bottom, everything bad is happening to us”… “the way we were treated you didn’t even want to try to do anything.” In another part of the video, one of the blue-eyed kids got into a fight with another kid because he called him “brown eyes”.
On the second day Elliot switched the discrimination. Brown-eyed kids were now on top. I think none of the kinds really understood how “racism” affected people until they were discriminated against based on their eye color. Elliot divided the group initially, and then at the end brought the groups together to explain what happened.
I think that it was a good exercise to use to teach the kids about discrimination. All the third graders got a first hand experience of being on top and on the bottom. None of them liked the feeling of being a minority. However, as discussed in ISL, the “conversation with others also maintains the shared reality through the language in which it is conducted”; and in this experiment, the shared reality was “we, the brown-eyed” or “we, the blue-eyed” are better than the others, or them!
Social psychology was at work in this experiment. The influence of the teacher on the group was profound and effective. Elliot was able to create these classifications by allowing one group “to do” while not allowing the other group “to do” the same. These classifications matter because they illustrate that we truly are not individuals but products of our group or classification. We don’t exist in a vacuum but in direct relation to our environment, culture and ideas. Elliott creates a kind of “class”, and demonstrates that we are connected either deliberately or indirectly.
Many years later, when asked if the learning was worth the agony, all of the adults in her class agreed that it was. I believe that they will forever remember this lesson because of the real life implications. This film makes us realize how many concepts are still active today in every day life. For example, name-calling, referring to other people not in your “group” as “them” or “you guys.” These are two common forms of discrimination today. The film also shows that people, who are normally friends, can turn nasty and become discriminatory against each other instantly. Social meaningfulness helps us to think more about how we would want to be treated in any situation.
"A Class Divided" is a film that everyone should view no matter what race or ethnicity a person might be. Whether we realize it or not, everyone is prone to some form of discrimination or prejudice. Most Americans are not part of the dominant group, therefore due to being a minority, we undergo a feeling of inferiority. This film presents us with a different view on the color of someone's skin. ...
When Elliot goes on to do the same experiment on the adults in the prison, it didn’t seem to take on the same genuineness as with the students. The only part that seemed real to me was the blue-eyed part. This is because when she brought in the brown-eyed adults, and told them what was going on, what was going to happen, and how they should play along. Basically she told them how to respond to certain things and situations that occurred. For example, there was a part in the film where she asked the brown eyes “what have they noticed about the blue eyes in the last ten minutes”, and one of the responses, to me, seemed really rehearsed and practiced. It would have been fine, but then the person goes on to add “I don’t even know why you have them here” that to me seems really faked and planned out.
I believe that social mindfulness tremendously impact society and human relations, for current and future generations. When kids are shown and given an opportunity to experience right and wrong, I think that for their generation they can begin to further a change in the world, and for the next generation and so on. As I stated above, the many biases created by human inventions strongly impact the social mindfulness. These biases may demonstrate inequality and differences, but social mindfulness helps to provide a balance in the sense of “do unto others as you would like to be done unto you”.