Editor's note: Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Anderson Cooper and AC360° producers created a study exploring kids' views on race, and tune in tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
It had been a while since our production team hung out in elementary or middle schools, but while some things change, others remain the same. Some kids were still cliquey, bells still rang when it was time to change classes and students still walked in single file lines. But students today seem to be more affected by the constantly changing world around them, in a way many from my generation weren't. There was talk of bullying, Martin Luther King and equality - and those comments came from both 6-year-olds and 13-year-olds. From the mouths of babes!
Spending time with young people is always invigorating. However, for our team, working 12 straight hours, starting at 4 and 5 am, left us depleted by the end of some days. Also, we were on an early morning school schedule which is something members of our late-working AC360 staff aren't used to normally.
The team had great discussions as we watched the sun rise from the New Jersey Turnpike, and even better conversations while we waited in daily, hour-long traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel, returning to the city. But the experience is one that I certainly will never forget. As we watched child after child participate in the study, hidden from their view, it was comforting to know that no matter what they said in terms of the test, almost all the children had interesting answers and each had their own unique personality.
When the final day of shooting arrived, we returned to an elementary school we'd been to before. As the setup process and the testing came to an end, we reflected on our experience. I was hopeful that the results would lead to thoughtful conversations between parents and children. But most of all, I enjoyed being part of the team that produced this study. Please continue to watch each installment of "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture” on AC360 at 8 and 10 pm ET, and don't miss our hour long special airing at 8 pm ET Sunday night.
I always think personal life experience parallels always have an impact when coming from someone older and established. So, Anderson, I think if you could relate to your guests by explaining how your teen experiences were with same-sex dating, it would help put interracial dating into perspective as well. What was it like for you dating young males when you were their age? How can you relate that to dating someone from another race?
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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