Lessons Learned Essay, Research Paper
In The Lesson, by Toni Cade Bambara, Miss Moore takes several children from a lower class neighborhood to F.A.O. Schwartz, an upper class toy store. For today s lesson, Miss Moore, who has a college education, intends to teach the children about the different social and economic classes. The children soon understand that these toys are far beyond their means or their parents , and that someone would have to be rich in order to afford one of these toys. After the children leave the store, we can see how they are affected by the lesson. Was Miss Moore s lesson helpful or hurtful to the children? Perhaps the lesson would be better learned at a later date, because the children are too young to grasp all the aspects of the lesson presented.
How will this lesson affect the children s outlook? The children seem to correlate rich with white. For example, when Miss Moore asked what the children thought of the store, Rosie Giraffe responds, White folks crazy. Will the children now resent white people? If this is the case, then this will only make life tougher on the children. It will cause them to distance themselves from white folks, making it difficult, if not impossible to succeed on many levels of life. If they had learned this lesson on their own or had it been taught later, they would have been able to weather it with more knowledge and not draw generalizations that could last an entire lifetime.
How will the lesson affect the children s future? The pursuit of education is without a doubt important, however, perhaps Miss Moore may have been a bit too abrupt. The children have fairly strong self-esteem at this point in their lives; however, the lesson learned today may injure it severely. Sylvia asks herself, What kinda work they do and how they live and how come we ain t in on it. She remembers Miss Moore always points out, it don t necessarily have to be that way. According to Sylvia she waits for someone to say that poor people have to wake up and demand their share of the pie. In the story, Sylvia is angry and goes to reflect on the entire day by herself. She now knows she is poor and the rich have so many opportunities. Will she strive to change society or will she come to the realization that she is poor and that s all she can ever be? Will Sylvia s anger make her resentful and bitter or will it spur her on to change social and economic inequality?
Are the children too young for the lesson? As a child you generally live in your own world. Children don t know about rich, poor, stupid or smart. It s just them and their friends. A delicate balance between their world and that of the real world must be maintained. I believe that the children are too young for this lesson. Sylvia was unable to cope with the situation right off and Mercedes doesn t seem to fully understand the problem. By waiting until the children are older, Miss Moore could have not only stated the problem, but could have gotten the children to offer solutions to the social and economic inequalities.
Miss Moore has all the good intentions in the world, but her good intentions don t necessarily make up for the fact that this lesson is one of grave importance. The children to whom she is teaching the lesson are very impressionable, and if they misinterpret her lesson it would have a devastating effect on their lives. At the end of the story, Syliva says, ain t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin, not realizing how tough it will be to not let anyone get in her way. At this age, Sylvia is too young to bring about change. She is powerless against the outside world. She is too young with too little voice in the outside world.