Toni Cade Bambara's the Lesson: the Impact of Poverty on Education

938 Words Mar 28th, 2014 4 Pages
Katrina Nicholes-Shults
Mrs. Livingston
English 1102/S.E.1.3
February 6, 2014 Toni Cade Bambara’s The Lesson: The Impact of Poverty on Education
Toni Cade Bambara’s short story The Lesson told in first person by a character named Sylvia. Sylvia is a poor student who resides in the ghetto of New York with her friends and family. The story begins in the summertime in New York, where the children are out of school, playing and having fun; but when a new neighbor Miss Moore move in, things change. Miss Moore is an educated African American woman, who embarks on an educational journey with the children. She realizes that the children lack experience and knowledge of a world outside of poverty, so she takes them on a trip outside their
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Miss Moore would gather the children together at the mailbox and return to the mailbox. One day, Miss Moore decided to take the children to F.A.O. Schwartz, an expensive toy store in Manhattan for educational purposes. It is implicit that Miss Moore is a teacher because she assigns each child with a task. Once the tasks are complete, the children are to report their results to Miss Moore. For example, the tasks included thinking, evaluating, and answering questions about money.
Initially, Miss Moore gives Sylvia a five-dollar bill with the task of figuring out how much a ten percent tip would be for the driver. For Sylvia, this meant financial responsibility. Frustrated about how to calculate the tip, she only paid him the cost of the cab fare of eighty-five cents and kept the change. This meant either she did not know math or was too embarrassed to acknowledge her inability. Another teaching moment occurred in the toy store when Big Butt wanted to buy a $300 microscope, but did not know its purpose or function. Miss Moore gave a mini lecture about science. Then everyone focused his or her attention on Rosie Giraffe, who stood next to a $480 paperweight. Again, no one knew of its purpose or function until Miss Moore explained, “It’s to weigh paper down so it won’t scatter and make your desk untidy” (388). Junebug replied, “We don’t keep paper on top of the desk in my class” (388). The children

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