Need ideas for segregation activity

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Sluggermel, May 9, 2008.

  1. Sluggermel

    Sluggermel Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2007
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 9, 2008

    I teach 7th grade ELA and I am teaching a story about Jackie Robinson and how he was the first colored man to play on a white team in the 1940's. I want to give some background info on segregation and the severity of it at the time. I would like to come up with an activity where students can understand firsthand the full impact of what segregation was like. For example, I want to separate the class into two groups and give one group all kinds of privileges, without giving the other group any. Does anyone have any ideas of what exactly I can do for this?
     
  2.  
  3. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 10, 2008

    "Colored" isn't politically correct anymore. Person of color is more appropriate. I'm assuming you're using that term because it's the term MLB used back in the 1940's, but I wanted to put that out there anyway :).

    I participated in an exercise like that when I was in Army Basic Training. It was diversity sensitivity training, and it was really effective. Unfortunately, I read an article a couple years ago about a teacher in Florida who did a very similar exercise and got sued by a parent, and I think was fired! So, I don't know. Maybe if you're considering doing that, get parents to sign permission slips.
     
  4. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Messages:
    1,727
    Likes Received:
    35

    May 10, 2008

    Split them via gender and alert your admins before you do it. I do stuff like this all year and as long as you tell someone before hand you'll be fine.
     
  5. Passion4Teachin

    Passion4Teachin Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 10, 2008

    I did an activity like this that was very successful. I started teaching my lesson like normal... but treated the boys differently than the girls. I wouldnt call on the boys, I would make the boys sit in the corner if they talked out without raising their hand, but let the girls talk without raising their hand. When the boys started to get angry about the way i was treating them... I started teaching the REAL lesson about segregation. Now that they experiences the anger, the confusion, and the feelings that went along with it.
     
  6. jw13

    jw13 Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Messages:
    1,494
    Likes Received:
    1

    May 10, 2008

    You could seperate according to eye color, it's a more neutral characteristic for separation. Also, make sure that you "swap" each group to have/not have priveleges.
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    3,774
    Likes Received:
    9

    May 10, 2008

    While of course there are rare exceptions, since almost all Asian and African-Americans have brown eyes, and almost all blue and hazel eyes come from European-originated peoples, this really does come out as separating by race. That's why several schools that used eye color for this experiment have been sucessfully sued.

    I'd be very careful using eye color as the segregating factor.
     
  8. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    3,774
    Likes Received:
    9

    May 10, 2008

    I have very strong feelings about not using this particular "experiment' in a setting with children.

    Segregation fosters feelings of inferiority in children. We know that. Study after study has demonstrated that.

    The reason that mock segregation experiments have been frowned-upon in schools is that we don't know how long it takes for a child to internalize this feeling of inferiority. It can be a very short time. Teenagers are very impressionable.

    Once internalized, it may take the services of a mental health professional to help undo the damage, if it can be undone at all. The simply debriefing held at the end of the experiment may not be enough for vulnerable children. (And yes, teens are still children.) You don't actually know the vulnerability of each of your students. As teachers, we are not trained or equipped to determine that.

    There are several documented cases where this "mock segregation" continued in other classes long after the experiment had been halted. The students had internalized their roles -- both the feeling of superiority by students who were in the privileged group and the feelings of inferiority by the students who were in the impoverished group.

    Yes, there are many cases of teachers losing their jobs over this particular experiment. You could get it approved by your principal and HOPE that nothing bad happens. My point is this --there are so many other ways to teach this material. Why risk the psyche of a child?
     
  9. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 10, 2008

    You can really separate completely arbitrarily. I don't think using gender, eye color, or any physical characteristics is a great idea. Just pull numbers out of a hat. Odd numbers are group 1. Even numbers are group 2.
     
  10. Passion4Teachin

    Passion4Teachin Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 10, 2008

    This is a great idea!
     
  11. Passion4Teachin

    Passion4Teachin Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 10, 2008

    I agree with a lot of your points, but I have taught this subject several times and I am surprised each year at how students have NO understanding of what it was like back then. I believe that students learn better when they can actually relate to the subject matter at hand. You can explain to them all you want that people of color were treated differently and had different rights or lack of rights in the past, but do they really understand what that means if the have never felt what it feels like to be segregated? I feel that using an "experiment" like this helps them understand the emotions, confusion, and anger that people of color felt back which makes the subject real to them in 2008. Students are so far removed from this time period that they have no understanding of it. I believe that as long as students understand the REASON, PURPOSE, and RATIONALE behind your experiment they will be able to get a first hand look at what it was like to be in their shoes. I think its beneficial to their learning about diversity and can lead to bigger discussions on ways in which people are still being segregated. It can even spark students to think about ways they segregated people in their lives and ways they can fix that.
     
  12. jw13

    jw13 Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Messages:
    1,494
    Likes Received:
    1

    May 10, 2008

    I stand corrected:eek:...Thank You!:)
     
  13. Sluggermel

    Sluggermel Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2007
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 10, 2008

    These are great posts! I do only plan on making this "experiment" about 5 minutes when I introduce and give a little background information on segregation. I agree with "passion4teachin" in that students are so far removed from reality and history (one of my students had no idea what September 11 was and what occurred) and that it does help if they can relate and experience it. I do like the idea of separating the groups in a neutral way by having them pick numbers. This would be a great way to eliminate any kind of 'bias'.
     
  14. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Messages:
    5,641
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2008

    If you want it to be a suprise, like the one poster who just randomly springs this on the class, you could just go down your seating chart assigning numbers, then, after the 5 minutes are up, explain what you did.
     
  15. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Messages:
    1,727
    Likes Received:
    35

    May 11, 2008

    The problem with numbers is that it makes it far too obvious that something is being done differently. For any experiential activity to work it has to feel real. If you tell them "I'm going to split you up so you feel what it is like" you've truly demeaned those who dealt with real segregation because they won't feel it at all. At best they'll giggle about it.

    If I told the kids "Ok, I'm going to sell you fake extra credit so you can see what indulgences were like" it would go nowhere.

    There's so little boldness left in education and then we all whine about our kids not being creative. Of course they aren't, they are afraid to be. Talk to your admins and then do it. History is dying and we teachers are the ones killing it.
     
  16. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Messages:
    5,641
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2008

    Rock, that's why I suggested planning it out using the seating chart and not telling them until later. That removes the problem of being accused of "real" discrimination, yet also gives them something to think about once its over.
     
  17. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2008

    By not using a physical trait you miss the point that segregation, or other forms of discrimination, based on a physical attribute is devastating to the individual. True, you do demonstrate that segregation based on religion, culture or other changeable attribute is painful, but kids already know that they can hide most of those.

     
  18. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    3,774
    Likes Received:
    9

    May 11, 2008

    Exactly! The trait has to be something that is physically obvious to all, and something the person cannot change no matter what in order for it to be viable.

    For those who say they do this for 5 minutes or 15 minutes, I think you are missing the point. You can't demonstrate the problem in that time frame.

    There are so many other wonderful ways to present the information. Five minutes of being treated differently for a random reason you don't understand isn't going to make anyone more empathetic to the evils of racial segregation.
     
  19. Annie227

    Annie227 Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2008

    My husband teaches 7th grade social studies and has done this time of activity a couple different ways. One involved giving a quiz and then telling the students that kids wearing pants will automatically receive an A and kids wearing shorts automatically receive a D (obviously not really counting those grades, but using that as a way to start a discussion). The one he did last week involved splitting the class up into several groups and assigning the project of creating a book about civil rights. One group received all the supplies they could possibly want and the paper was pre-cut for them. One group received paper, crayons, and scissors. The other group received nothing and had to use whatever supplies they had in their bags or whatever they could borrow from the other groups.
     
  20. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2008

    There's a fine line between teaching this lesson and reinforcing the stereotypes you're trying to defeat. There are also personal liability concerns-teachers have been successfully sued for these sorts of "experiments." I'm not missing any point; if I were to do this type of lesson, I'd go about it a different way is all.
     
  21. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2008

    Could you point me to a few of these suits? I'm not having any success finding them on my own, though I beleive they stopped being 'experimental' when Drucker was a middle-aged consultant, back in the late 60's.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Reagan,
  2. applecore,
  3. MrsC,
  4. GemStone,
  5. mrsammieb,
  6. AmyMyNamey,
  7. brittani,
  8. DizneeTeachR,
  9. RainStorm,
  10. czacza
Total: 316 (members: 11, guests: 232, robots: 73)
test