Essay on the Lesson

Published: 2021/12/17
Number of words: 1146

Option 1

Sylvia’s experiences as a young girl and as one of Miss Moore’s students highlight the value of active, critical education. Miss Moore decides to take her students to a toy store to create an understanding of the differences in social class. The teacher also has an aim of enlightening her students to challenge their backgrounds and aim for better things. Sylvia has been used to portray the aspect of poverty and the importance of education in understanding the social classes in the society. The author highlights the value of education in understanding the themes of poverty. Firstly, Sylvia is naive and is not aware of her poor background, “And then she gets to the part about we all poor and live in slums which I don’t feature.” This shows that Sylvia is undisturbed by her current situation and has not been challenged as she is comfortable with her current situation. Miss Moore seems to be aware of how naïve her students are and decides to educate her students about the cost of things and what their parents make and how much goes for rent and how money is not divided right in the country.

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Miss Moore decides to actively educate her students by taking them to Fifth Avenue where there is an exclusive toy store. Sylvia is first alarmed by how different people are dressed in stockings and fur coat. They get to the store and look in the windows before they go in. The students are alarmed by the price tag of $300 on a microscope. Miss Moore asks them how long it would take to save up their allowances for it, and they say too long. The students then get to see a sailboat of fiberglass being sold at $1195. Sylvia is stunned and asks, “Who’d pay all that when you can but a sailboat set for a quarter at Pop’s, a tube of glue for a dime, and a ball of strings for eight cents? My sailboat cost me about fifty cents.” Sylvia starts becoming aware of her background status through active learning. This is evident when Sylvia and Sugar hang back from opening the door into the store and she feels ashamed but doesn’t seem to know why. The prices intimidated her as she notes that she has never felt shy about doing nothing or going nowhere. By making price comparisons and how their cheap boats were easily damaged, the author portrays the aspect of inferiority of the possessions of the poor. For instance, Miss Moore asks them about their work spaces at home and most of the students say they don’t own a desk and stationery. Mercedes who appears to be economically better than her peers, is shoved and insulted by her peers to show anger of the poor towards inequality on a small scale. Additionally, difference in social class and poverty is highlighted when Sylvia spots a clown that does somersaults that costed $35. She notes that thirty-five dollars could buy new bunk beds for Junior and Gretchen’s boy. Thirty-five dollars could take her whole household to visit Grand-daddy Nelson in the country, or pay rent and piano bill too. Sylvia could not comprehend how people could spend that much on a single toy and asks, “Who are these people that spend that much for performing clowns and $1000 for toy sailboats? What kind of work do they do, how do they live and how come we are not in on it?” These experience opens up Sylvia’s mind and she starts to see the reality of her surroundings.

Sylvia’s experiences as a young girl and as one of Miss Moore’s students highlight the value of active, critical education. The experiences at F.A.O. Schwarz store enlightened Sylvia and her peers to see the reality of their environment. The students got to learn about the gravity of poverty in their neighborhood when Sugar comment, “I don’t think all of us here put together eat in a year eat what that sailboat costs.” Active learning has helped the students experience what social inequality feels like. Sugar notes that this does not promote the value of democracy. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough. Critical education has been impactful as we see the students getting to question the way of things. Sylvia and her peers were naïve before visiting the store and the experience at the F.A.O. Schwarz toy store changed their perspective of the world. The students appear to be challenged by how poor their community is and are not pleased by the state of the difference in social classes.

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Sylvia is a character who is constantly in control and appears to be vulgar and rude to those who appear superior to her. Her judgmental character shows her need for control and satisfaction in her life. However, towards the end of the story, Sugar outruns her and responds by saying, “But ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin.” Since her visit at the toy store, she has been challenged all through and has realized that she is socially disadvantaged. By being outran by her friend, she does not respond with her usual insults and comforts herself that nobody will defeat at anything. Sylvia means she is not going to settle with being poor or considered to be less than the people who can afford to buy the expensive things at the toy store. The learning experience taught her that there are people who are well privileged and she should challenge the system for better things. Miss Moore says that where we are is who we are, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

Active and critical education has been used effectively by Miss Moore to change the perception of her students towards the world. The students were naïve and were not aware of their social status until they visited Fifth Avenue. Miss Moore has helped the children learn the value of education and have confidence to challenge their current lifestyles. Mercedes notes that she would like to visit the store again when she gets her birthday money. This shows that she wants to strive to attain better things. Therefore, the experiences by Miss Moore’s students shows the value of active, critical education. Teachers should engage their students in active learning and use non-conventional teaching strategies during lessons. The trip at the toy store gave the students a first-hand experience of the differences in social class in their society. Miss Moore students became aware that they were living in poverty and is upon them to question and improve their way of life.

Work cited

Bambara, Toni Cade. “The lesson.” Gorilla, my love (1972): 85-96.

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