In 1968, Jane Elliot made an experiment about stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. In this experiment she separated children into two groups. One was labeled blue eyes and the other was labeled brown eyes. Then she told the children that blue eyes are privileges. The result showed her words actually influenced the attitude of children that the children performed discrimination in a few minutes after she said previleges. (The Pennsylvania State University, 2015)
Elliot’s experiment is a typical example when teacher’s attitude influence children’s attitude. There was a real event happened to me which confirms the phenomenon. When I was in junior high school, there was a head teacher for each class. The head teacher not only teaches a subject for the class, but also be with students in this class all the time. The head teacher is responsible for the life and learning of students. In my home town the grades of students could be seen by everyone. Every time after a test the head teacher would read grades loud to the class. Therefore, students in a class could know the grade of every classmate. In this circumstance, sometimes the head teacher performed preference to students who had good grades.
The head teacher was being nice to good grade students, while sometimes the teacher did not show much patience with bad grade students. This preference influenced the students in the class. Students regarded good grades as the sign of great people and they gave a lot of respect to good grade students. Students who had good grade were easier to make friends in the class. Compared to that, classmates did not show much patience to bad grade students just like the head teacher did. There was a cleaning job for student in my junior high school. Students were divided into several groups to clean the classroom every day. Once a good grade student did not do the cleaning, classmates showed tolerance. However, when a bad grade student did not do the cleaning, classmates would explain and even perform negative attitude toward the bad grade student.
This is an instance which confirms Elliot’s experiment of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. In this case, the head teacher’s preference toward good grade students influenced the attitude of the students’. Bandura presented a theory called observational learning (The Pennsylvania State University, 2015). According to this theory, children would learn behaviors through observation. Based on this theory, the example of teacher and students could be explained that the students learned the teacher’s preference through observation. Since the teacher and students spent much time together, the constant observation for teacher’s attitude would influence the students’ attitude easier and quicker. This phenomenon would be a warning for current teachers in education. Because teachers spend much time with students, their behavior and attitudes are likely be followed by their students through observational learning. To educate their students in a better way the teachers may need to start with being aware of their own behavior and attitude in normal life.
The Pennsylvania State University. (2015). ‘Stereotyping, Prejudice and Discrimination’ in Lesson 10: Eductaion. PSYCH 424: Applied Social Psychology. Website:
The Pennsylvania State University. (2015). ‘Learning’ in Lesson 10: Eductaion. PSYCH 424: Applied Social Psychology. Website:
The image used in this post is from http://www.ai-media.tv/tag/visible-classroom/