In 1968, a small town teacher in Iowa, Mrs. Jane Elliot, went about teaching a lesson in discrimination the day after Martin Luther King died. She divided her children into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups. This was the foundations of a lesson which the children would never forget. I came across this video during college, and it truly touched me. Mrs. Elliot achieved what we all as teachers would like to think we can – make a difference in students’ lives.
I was so impressed with her exercise that I wanted to come up with a similar exercise which using her video, that could be used in schools. This is my TY Discrimination Project;
Year/Class Group: Transition Year
Title: TY Discrimination Project
Time: One week exercise
- Parents are given a detailed letter of the exercise students are participating in.
- All staff members were aware of the TY project.
- TY teacher are to follow the rules by ignoring Red Sash Students for the day.
Red Sash Exercise Day 1
- Instead of dividing the children by eye color, divide the class into 2 groups and give one group a red sash to tie around their arm. This group had to wear it for the entire day around school.
- The students with the red sash were made to stand out – to be different and to get noticed.
- For the remaining students it was just another day in school.
During class the red sash students were ignored, were constantly corrected for their actions and were purposefully treated different to the remaining class.
For homework each student group of students had a different reflection about the day.
Red Sash Exercise Day 2
- The students with the red sash’s had to hand them over to a student with no sash.
- The roles were reversed for both groups of students.
Again during class, the red sash students were ignored, were constantly corrected for their action and were purposefully treated different to the remaining class.
For homework the groups had the opposite reflection to which they completed already.
Red Sash Exercise Day 3
Sash’s were given back (with a sigh of relief from students).
Initial reactions about the exercise, was recorded on the whiteboard under two headings – Red Sash – No Sash
Then introduce the video of Mrs. Elliot and her class.
The class can compare the reactions and the reactions of the students in Mrs. Elliot’s classroom.
Here is the inspiring video: