They had zero idea what was going on at first. Then they start to catch on to why she's treating them so differently.
Here's just a bit of the transcript from the first time she did this experiment — with her third-grade class the week after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Jane Elliott: Do you think you know how it would feel to be judged by the color of your skin?
Jane Elliott: Do you think you do? No, I don't think you'd know how that felt unless you had been through it, would you? It might be interesting to judge people today by the color of their eyes ... would you like to try this?
Jane Elliott: Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Since I'm the teacher and I have blue eyes, I think maybe the blue-eyed people should be on top the first day.
Boy: And up here?
Jane Elliott: I mean, the blue-eyed people are the better people in this room.
Jane Elliott: Oh yes they are — blue-eyed people are smarter than brown-eyed people.
Brian: My dad isn't that ... stupid.
Jane Elliott: Is your dad brown-eyed?
Jane Elliott: One day you came to school and you told us that he kicked you.
Brian: He did.
Jane Elliott: Do you think a blue-eyed father would kick his son? My dad's blue-eyed, he's never kicked me. Ray's dad is blue-eyed, he's never kicked him. Rex's dad is blue-eyed, he's never kicked him. This is a fact. Blue-eyed people are better than brown-eyed people. Are you brown-eyed or blue-eyed?
Jane Elliott: Why are you shaking your head?
Brian: I don't know.
Jane Elliott: Are you sure that you're right? Why? What makes you sure that you're right?
Brian: I don't know.
Jane Elliott: The blue-eyed people get five extra minutes of recess, while the brown-eyed people have to stay in.
Jane Elliott: The brown-eyed people do not get to use the drinking fountain. You'll have to use the paper cups. You brown-eyed people are not to play with the blue-eyed people on the playground, because you are not as good as blue-eyed people. The brown-eyed people in this room today are going to wear collars. So that we can tell from a distance what color your eyes are. On page 127 ... is everyone ready? Everyone but Laurie. Ready, Laurie?
Child: She's a brown-eye.
Jane Elliott: She's a brown-eye. You'll begin to notice today that we spend a great deal of time waiting for brown-eyed people. The yardstick's gone. Well, OK. I don't see the yardstick, do you?
Rex: It's probably over there.
Raymond: Hey, Mrs. Elliott, you better keep that on your desk so if the brown people, the brown-eyed people get out of hand...
Jane Elliott: Oh, you think if the brown-eyed people get out of hand, that would be the thing to use. Who goes first to lunch?
Children: The blue eyes.
Jane Elliott: The blue-eyed people. No brown-eyed people go back for seconds. Blue-eyed people may go back for seconds. Brown-eyed people do not.
Brian: Why not the brown-eyes?
Jane Elliott: Don't you know?
Child: They're not smart.
Jane Elliott: Is that the only reason?
Child: ...afraid they'll take too much.
Jane Elliott: They might take too much. OK, quietly now ... not a sound.