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Zsuzsa F. Lassú and Anett Szarvas-Elek: In the wake of Jane Elliott: Reducing prejudices in teacher education

We aimed to present students with the mechanics and effects of prejudice based on a theoretical background of prejudice using practical experience as a starting point. Jane Elliott's students were faced for one day with the experience of the harmful discrimination affecting minority groups for a whole lifetime; our students had only 15 minutes for the same exercise. According to our findings, this amount of time is sufficient to comment the negative experience and to raise awareness of the situation of discriminated groups, one that they hopefully will never have to experience in real life. Provided our exercise has a lasting effect, members of the group will keep the imaginary collar in their pockets in order to remember their own experience with prejudice. Hopefully, teachers will remember this experience in situations in which they themselves discriminate in an overt or covert way among their pupils. When they split pupils into groups according to their best judgement, they may realize neither the negative effect on pupils who may approach a problem with greater circumspection or the "slow" pupils nor the conflict created between the "slow" and "clever" pupils. We hope that they will not face these situations without understanding and tool: surely, the existence of and the difference between groups are inevitable, but their relationships can be improved with conscious attention. Finally, we have to emphasize the dangers of our experiment. No matter how spectacular and successful the confrontation technique presented here seems to be, it should be carried out with great care, expertise and sensitivity. Both the facilitators are psychologists who are experts in groupwork and who have spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the experiment. That is why we would strongly recommend repetition of the experiment only to those, who are well-prepared and have practice in leading self-awareness group training. It is a great responsibility to assist one toward self-recognition, a goal which can sometimes be very painful though constructive. We would like to thank the students participating in the experiment for their cooperation and consent. They made it possible for us to analyze these group events.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 100. Number 2. 227-242. (2000)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: F. Lassú Zsuzsa H-8000 Székesfehérvár, Szabadságharcos u. 53. E-mail:; Elekné Szarvas Anett H-8000 Székesfehérvár, Szabadságharcos u. 53. E-mail:


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia