Monday, February 16, 2009

Learning Discrimination

What is discrimination? Where does it come from?

Children are not born with prejudices. They are taught them, first by their parents, then by their schools, religious leaders, movies and TV shows, etc. Think about some of the negative things you have heard in your life about people from different cultures, people with different skin colors, gay and lesbian people, etc., where did you first learn those things? Are they really true about all people in that group?

Did you ever hear that brown eyed people are smarter than people with blue eyes? It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

In 1968, after Martin Luther King was assassinated, a third grade teacher tried an experiment. She told her students that people with blue eyes were smarter than people with brown eyes. The next day she told them she had lied - that actually people with brown eyes were smarter.

You can watch a video about this experiment that shows how easy it is to teach children to discriminate. The video is called "A Class Divided" - you can watch it here. Later, they get together and talk about what they learned that day.

After you watch the video, you can read the transcript here.

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