A teacher in the United States wanted her class of seven-year-olds to understand what it is felt like to be discriminated against. Here is what she did.
The class was divided into two groups – the blue-eyed children and brown-eyed children. The class was told that the blue-eyed children were more intelligent and generally superior to the brown-eyed children. The blue-eyed children then put collars around the necks of the brown-eyed children to make difference more obvious. The collars were kept in school.
During the day the blue-eyed children were given all kinds of privileges. They could sit at the front of the class and go to break and lunch first. They were praised, too. The blue-eyed children felt superior and aggressive. The brown-eyed children felt unhappy and wanted revenge.
The next day, the teacher told the children that she had lied. The blue-eyed children weren’t really superior – it was the brown-eyed children who were superior. The collars were put on the blue-eyed children and they lost their privileges to the brown-eyed children.
The children became more aggressive, there was name-calling and a fight between two boys. The teacher noticed that the children with the collars found their work (exercises) more difficult. They explained that they couldn’t work because they were unhappy.
At the end of the second day the teacher explained that she had done. The teacher talked about their feelings. “I felt like a dog on a lead,” said one boy. One of the girls said she had felt as if she was in prison. Once the collars were removed, the children became lively, friendly and happy again.
Answer the questions.
1. What was the purpose of the experiment?
2. Which group were superior? The blue-eyed children or the brown eyed children?
3. What happened to children with collars?
4. How did the group without collars behave?
5. What happened after the collars were removed?
6. Did the results surprise you? Why? Why not?
7. Is it right for the teacher to do this kind of experiment?
1. Look at this plan of the article about working children. Read the paragraphs and number them, according to the plan.
INTRODUCTION Children’s Rights
MAIN TOPIC The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
HISTORY British labour reforms in the 19th century
SITUATION IN BRITAIN Today’s laws for children in Britain
WORLD SITUATION Child labour around the world
CONCLUSION The social changes that are necessary before child labour can disappear
__ Although things may have come a long way in Britain since the early 19th century, the rights of young people still vary enormously across the world. Al over the world, children still work in dangerous conditions in factories, mines and construction sites; on farms and as servants. Some have to work for 10-12 hours per day, and rarely have the chance to go to school, they should be able to learn new skills so that they wouldn’t end up with low-paid jobs as adults.
__ All around the world, children are exploited and denied the basic rights that many of us see as automatic, such as the right to be fed, the right to be clothed, the right to be educated. However, an international ‘Bill of Rights’ is now changing this.
__ Nowadays in the UK, schooling is compulsory for young people aged between five and sixteen. This is longer than in other countries. At sixteen you can take up a full-time employment (if you can find a job). Young people of thirteen in the UK can get a part-time job, but there are lots of restrictions. For instance, you can’t do paid work for more than two hours on a school day or on Saturday.
__ Reformers in Britain worked hard to improve working conditions in places such as mines, mills and factories more than a century before the Un approved its Convention on the Rights of the Child. The factories of the early Industrial Revolution in Britain exploited cheap labour – mainly that of women and children. In 1802, the first Factory Act limited the hours of a child could work each day to twelve. Things improved a lot when the second Factory Act was passed in 1833. Children under nine were not allowed to work at all, and all working children between the ages of nine and thirteen had to be educated for two hours each day. This was the first compulsory education in Britain.
__ The UN Convention was established, among other things, to do something about this situation before the start of the 21st century. It is, of course, a necessary step to pass laws that make it illegal to hire children under a certain age, or that limit the number of hours children may work, but this is not enough. In order to make sure that no child has to work more than is acceptable, there need to be huge social changes. Working children, for instance, need access to education. Their parents also need jobs that pay a living wage so that they don’t have to send their children to work.
__ It is estimated that up to 50,000,000 children around the world under the age of fifteen work full-time. Until recently there was no international agreement on how the rights of children should be protected. However, in 1989, after ten years of negotiations, the United Nations passed a Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention has now been signed by 126 countries, which means that they are legally bound to meet the Un requirements.
2. Match the sentences with numbers in the text.
a. It is the estimated number of children under fifteen years of age who are in full-time work around the world.
b. It is the year the UN passed its Convention on the rights of the Child.
c. It is the number of years of negotiations before the UN Convention was passed.
d. It is the number of countries who have agreed to the Convention.
e. It is the year when the first British Factory Act was passed.
f. It is the minimum age at which children could be employed according to the second British Factory Act.
g. It is the daily number of hours of schooling working children under 13 had to receive according to the second British Factory Act.
h. They are the age limits of compulsory schooling in Britain.
i. It is the age at which British children can start part-time work.
j. It is the number of hours of paid work a young British kid can do on a school day.
k. They are the possible numbers of hours some children around the world have to work daily.
l. It is the century by which the UN want to introduce child labour reform worldwide.