On April 5th, 1968, one day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Riceville, Iowa elementary school teacher, Jane Elliott, embarked on a two-day social exercise with her third grade students that would result in a ground-breaking paradigm shift on how we view racism in America. In 1971, ABC News broadcast a documentary about her called “The Eye of the Storm” that made her more nationally known. After that, two books, “A Class Divided” and “A Class Divided: Then and Now” were written. “A Class Divided” was turned into a PBS Frontline documentary in 1985, and included a reunion of the schoolchildren featured in “The Eye of the Storm”. “Frontline: A Class Divided” is one of the most requested videos on PBS’s website. You can view the documentary by clicking here.
Not everyone embraced her views or her methods. We’ll talk with her about the effect it had on her students, her community and her family.
Since retiring from teaching, Jane Elliott has become one of this country’s leading activists on the topic of racism and diversity. She has gone on to use her experiences with her students to modify the training with adults in colleges, corporate settings and prisons throughout the United States and abroad. Her speech is direct, her manners are frequently called into question and her methods have not been without criticism – but no conscious person can walk away from viewing her in action and doubt her commitment to ending racism, sexism or agism. Ultimately, we will all be on the receiving end, making her work important to everyone.
This week, in my column, “The Opinionated Bitch – On Critical Thinking Skills“, I used Jane Elliott’s body of work as an example of teaching people not what to think, but how to think – a skill currently being demonized within more politically Conservative circles, as is best exemplified by the Texas State GOP platform on education for 2012. Their view: question nothing and accept everything you are taught as the truth. I find that horribly frightening. As a result of that column, I was hard-pressed by many of my readers to find Jane Elliott and ask for an interview. I did and she graciously said yes. This is for you, my friends.
You can find Jane Elliott’s website by clicking here.
You can read her truly insightful blog by clicking here.
So, along with our regular BROADSIDED listeners, I too will “buckle up”…
…because we’re all about to get BROADSIDED!
11am-12 Noon Eastern (8-9 am Pacific)
At the request of the Mrs. Elliott, we will not be accepting call-ins today.
We Strongly Encourage you to join us on the Chat line, though!