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  #1  
Old 05-09-2008, 09:52 PM
Sluggermel Sluggermel is offline
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Need ideas for segregation activity

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?
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  #2  
Old 05-10-2008, 09:58 AM
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newbie1234 newbie1234 is offline
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"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.
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  #3  
Old 05-10-2008, 11:48 AM
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Rockguykev Rockguykev is offline
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Social Studies
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.
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  #4  
Old 05-10-2008, 12:55 PM
Passion4Teachin Passion4Teachin is offline
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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.
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  #5  
Old 05-10-2008, 12:57 PM
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jw13 jw13 is offline
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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.
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  #6  
Old 05-10-2008, 01:08 PM
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RainStorm RainStorm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jw13 View Post
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.
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.
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  #7  
Old 05-10-2008, 01:12 PM
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RainStorm RainStorm is offline
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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?
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  #8  
Old 05-10-2008, 01:12 PM
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newbie1234 newbie1234 is offline
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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.
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  #9  
Old 05-10-2008, 01:16 PM
Passion4Teachin Passion4Teachin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbie1234 View Post
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.
This is a great idea!
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  #10  
Old 05-10-2008, 01:26 PM
Passion4Teachin Passion4Teachin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RainStorm View Post
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?
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.
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