A Class Divided

View the PBS Frontline documentary A Class Divided. Discuss:

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  • Your views of the video and its message
  • Your views on any ethical issues that might be present in conducting this type of experiment with children
  • Your views on what this video communicates about cultural sensitivity, lifestyle differences, and diversity

Describe why these considerations you discussed about A Class Divided are important to psychological professionals making decisions in their line of work.

To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document (attached).

Please also reply to the following two students posts regarding this same topic:

student one:

A Class Divided was a powerful demonstration in unnecessary discrimination that occur within society. As Mrs. Elliot mentioned near the end of the Frontline video, this exercise could be very damaging to children if not handled properly. It was really intriguing to see the pain that these children went through during the days they were considered inferior. Further it was fascinating to see the reunion of the class as adults and how much it affected them in a positive light. I think what made this experiment so effective is that Mrs. Elliot did a wonderful debriefing as well as explaining to these Caucasian children that this is how it feels everyday for a lot of minorities. I really applaud the sincerity within her heart while conducting this experiment.

Despite how much good this could bring to children who haven’t felt discrimination in their lives, I don’t think this could be considered ethical in today’s standards. Although the language used in the demonstration was merely to create a point, describing children as inferior in any shape or form can be damaging and is frowned upon for that reason. This should apply to all age groups and taken into consideration when applying this to a psychology profession. Even watching the experiment performed on the correctional officers made me want to cringe but I understood the method to the madness. Most of the staff understood what was happening and the purpose but I don’t think all participants understood because they already lived an entitled life for so long that it was engrained into their identity.

I think it is imperative for psychology professionals to have empathy of other life style preferences, cultural differences and other diversities. As a psychology professional it is their duty to be fully trained in handling diversity. As Hare-Mustin, Kaplan, Liss-Levinson, & Marecek (1979) mention in their article Rights of Clients, Responsibilities of Therapists: “Therapists who have not studied the social, economic, and cultural pressures facing women, minority groups, and the poor may fail to recognize the importance in creating psychological distress.” (p.5) Discrimination in any form can be the source of a lot of inner turmoil for clients. Psychology professionals are responsible to have not only have an open mind, but to create a safe place for the client to express these feelings without having to worry about the possibility of being judged.

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