Indivisible, Liberty, and Justice for All October 26, 2012 Indivisible, Liberty, and Justice for All2 Abstract This paper discusses Jane Elliot’s experiment with her third grade class and Olivia Murray’s document A Mindfulness To Transcend Pre-Service Lip-Service A Call for K-12 Schools To Invest in Social Justice Education. The document gives a brief overview of each author’s work and their approach to help understand the impact of a social justice education.
Finally, the essay provides the importance of combining both author’s approach to achieve equality in America. Indivisible, Liberty, and Justice for All3 Every morning, diverse groups of American students- rich and poor, black and white, rural and urban- begin the school day rising, facing the flag, and pledging allegiance to a country that claims to be indivisible, ensuring liberty and justice for all. Students learn about the value of equality, as Americans we have the right of equal treatment regardless of our background, belief, race or religion.
They learn about justice, that society offers the same benefits and has the same obligation to all citizens. Both of these values teach students that no one is favored over any other one, yet by reading A Mindfulness To Transcend Pre-Service Lip-Service A Call for K-12 Schools To Invest in Social Justice Education (Olivia Murray) and watched A Class Divided I recognized that disparate inequalities not only exist, but may continue to be perpetrated, if we do not take the initiative to change.
Lisa Delpit wrote “we all interpret behaviors, information, and situations through our own cultural lenses; these lenses operate involuntarily below the level of conscious awareness making it seem that our own view is simply the way it is” (Olivia Murray, pg. 48-49). Not until we are impacted by someone else’s perception of us as being different do we realize that our cultural awareness is bias. Society has faced this debacle for centuries; we have scholars go back and forth trying to find a solution on how to teach ur children to be color blind, to be less bias and to treat everyone the way they want to be treated. It seems so simple to say yet it is very hard to achieve. In the video A Class Divided, third grade teacher Jane Elliot attempts with her class an experiment to demonstrate the impact of discrimination. The article A Mindfulness To Transcend Pre-Service Lip-Service A Call for K-12 Schools To Invest in Social Justice Education (Olivia Murray) presents a three-fold approach so individual schools can address the issues of avoiding social injustice.
The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led to turmoil and riots across the country. Jane Elliot, a white, third grade teacher, felt the need to try a new approach to teach her Indivisible, Liberty, and Justice for All4 young students about discrimination especially after hearing the white media referring to “those people” and “those communities”, as if black Americans were somehow not part of America. The experiment was for two days, it started on Tuesday.
Jane Elliot begins by asking the class about National Brotherhood Week, what it means and whether there are people in America who aren’t treated like brothers. The children responded yes, Blacks and Indian Americans are not treated like brothers. So, Elliot proposes the experiment to help the students understand what discrimination means. Over the next two days, the class was split into blue-eyed and brown-eyed students and that on the first day, blue-eyed people are better than brown-eyed.
This meant they got extra recess, could drink from the fountain, have seconds at lunch and could play on the playground equipment. Brown-eyed students must use paper cups to drink from, may not play with blue-eyed children, must stay off playground and wore collars around their necks to be easily identified. During the rest of the day, Elliot points out how much time brown-eyed children took to complete tasks, how not prepared they were, how they don’t take things seriously and were disruptive and badly behaved. She entices the blue-eyed children to agree with her.
On Wednesday, it is the turn of the brown-eyed children to be better than the blue-eyed children. The roles are switched and the brown-eyed children despite having been on the receiving end of discriminatory behavior the day before are now tormenting the blue-eyed children. The children described their experiences like being a dog on a leash, like having collars and couldn’t think as well. At the end of the day, Elliot asks the children whether eye or skin color should be how we decide whether someone is good or bad or if those things make a good or bad person.
All of the children said no. Elliot also learned that the children who are privileged because of the eye color do better on tests than children who are being discriminated against. Indivisible, Liberty, and Justice for All5 Olivia Murray’s article A Mindfulness To Transcend Pre-Service Lip-Service A Call for K-12 Schools To Invest in Social Justice Education (Olivia Murray), suggest a three-fold approach for schools to adopt. It includes a partnership between the school staff, a school wide team, and a relationship with the school community.
The school staff must take a leadership role to confront the challenges; they should endure the discomfort of their own prejudices and biases. Open discourse about their own personal experiences will identify how each school supports equity and how they influence the social development of the children. Secondly, is to create a school-wide Equity Leadership Team (ELT), to assist schools in maintaining self-awareness among teachers and preparing our future generation of non-biased children.
The team can present the relevance and respect for different cultures, can pinpoint if the needs of particular groups of students is not being met due to lack of awareness. Finally, building and maintaining a true invisible relationship with the school community to promote the social justice values. When parents and the communities are involved in strengthening the communication for one same purpose it transmits a shared appreciation, therefore becoming part of the solution and not an outsider.
I believe that a combination of Elliot’s experiment with a continued application of Murray’s approach will eventually produce lifelong learners characterized by rich diversity. Being exposed hands on at an early age about the effects of discrimination will allow children to be more open-minded and color blind. Once the children are self-aware of the negative feelings they encounter and bringing on board the school staff, parents and community to promote the same values of equality, will only lead to a more just and equal America.
It was very surprising to realize that living in such a diverse country we are still faced with the same oppression as Blacks were in the 1960’s. Nowadays, it is not only due to skin color but also due to our religious beliefs and our sexual preferences, as well as others. For decades we have been trying Indivisible, Liberty, and Justice for All6 to figure out racism. We feel and believe we are not racist however we all have biases. The most important theme from Elliot and Murray’s work is the importance placed on the education that is delivered to our children.
By teaching our children through the use of right words and being open enough about our own prejudices will empower them. Empower them to make a change that will affect the future generation of America and worldwide. After all, we will have the ability to see America as the country that is indivisible, ensuring liberty and justice for all. Indivisible, Liberty, and Justice for All7 References Murray, Olivia. A Mindfulness To Transcend Pre-Service Lip-Service A Call for K-12 Schools To Invest in Social Justice Education Elliot, Jane. (1968) A Class Divided