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Discrimination awareness – use of Videos


We currently use a video called A Class Divided to illustrate the ease with which we can be influenced to behave in a discriminatory way. The video is quite old now and covers training sessions run in the 60’s where a Teacher separated a class into blue eyed and brown eyed children in order to help them experience discrimination. The vidoe also show the same training run with adults in the US Prison Service. I wondered, does anyone use it and what kind of feedback do you get?

Regards, Pamela Cowen
Pamela Cowen

5 Responses

  1. A Class Divided
    I have used A Class Divided many times with many different groups at all levels in major organisations, including military and police forces, and with people from vary varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The film invariably has a strong impact on the participants and, in my view, needs to be used carefully. I have also replicated the exercise with groups of participants, either as an extention of their seeing part of the film, or before showing the film. It is powerful stuff! Happy to discuss further if you wish.

    [email protected]

  2. a class divided
    I have also used a class divided on several occasions as part of an awareness raising session, mainly to engender discussion of the issues. It always has a significant impact, just as it did on me when I first saw it around 1990. More recently we used the technique to kick-start the debate on social inclusion within my organisation dividing delegates into groups by eye colour and quite openly discriminating against those with brown eyes – the session was very successful (although terrifying for those of us who led the exercise) leading straight from the experience into group work about how our practices/protocols and systems might be exclusive.

  3. A Class Divided

    I’m an independent consult / trainer. I use ‘A Class Divided’ on my programme ‘Celebrating Cultural Diversity’.
    So many people would arrive reluctantly, even resentfully, that I decided to shift the emphasis from the negative implications inherent in the language (even the title) of discrimination to a more positive approach to diversity issues.
    I sometime use another video, ‘Eye of The Storm’ which reflects back to Class Divided. It has a group of preteen English pupils watching the original footage, followed by their thoughts on it.
    It also has the children from the original film, now grown up, arrival for a reunion, probably in the 80s. They, and their children, meet with their former teacher and share how her experiment has affected their lives.
    Needless to say, the effects echo and reverberate down the generations.
    Apart from seeing footage of her in penal institutions, working with the staff, the ‘creator’ of this powerful experiment three times on the Oprah Winfrey’ show.
    We can assume that the audience knew what was going to happen, at the very least they would have known that OW was not going to alienate her fans.
    And yet, and yet, within a few minutes there was consternation, frustration, anger and attack.
    My approach in ‘Celebrating Cultural Diversity’ is to use the diversity in the room. What the delegates bring, their differences of pigmentation, religion, age, culture, gender and sexual orientation, education, status – that is what we will celebrate.
    To achieve that, however, we need to be able to acknowledge the differences, understand the barriers and reach out to each other with courage, commitment and integrity.
    I run the course in two parts, with delegates making a commitment, specificed and publicly articulated, to do something in between parts one and two, to make a difference in the context of diversity. It must be something that will be evident in other people’s senses.
    It works extraordinarily well!


  4. A Class Divided – video
    I have been a participant wher the video was used and it had a tremendous impact on the whole group, including those who were moere reluctant to attend the training.

    I would like to get hol of a copy. Anybody know how I can get one?

  5. “A Class Divided” used to good effect.
    I have used the video a number of times as an independent consultant, but not in my present employment.

    It was used with considerable effect, being a very useful tool to engender discussion. This was particularly the case when a client had insisted on a attendance (a three-line whip!) and some of the participants were initially attending with reluctance

    Best wishes
    Phil Dowland
    [email protected]

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