What do the students learn in "The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara?

The students learn about racial and economic inequality in "The Lesson" when Miss Moore takes them to an expensive toy store. The children realize that toys for richer kids represent a whole month or year of salary for their parents. Miss Moore hopes that the students will be motivated to lift themselves from poverty because of seeing what richer people can buy and experience.

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Miss Moore takes Sylvia and her friends to FAO Schwartz, a famously extravagant toy store. She wants the children to see the kinds of things that privileged people can afford to do with their money. Most of the kids have parents who struggle to pay rent, pay bills, and put food on the table. The kids see a $300 microscope through the window and say that they'd outgrow it before they could save enough allowance to purchase it. Miss Moore tells them that "you never outgrow learning instruments."

One girls points out a $480 glass paperweight. Another boy draws attention to a $1195 fiberglass sailboat. Sylvia, the narrator, says, "For some reason this pisses me off. We look at Miss Moore and she lookin at us, waiting for I dunno what." Sylvia cannot understand why she feels afraid to go inside; after all, it's "just a toy store," she says, "But I feel funny, shame. But what I got to be shamed about? Got as much right to go in as anybody."

When Sylvia and Sugar get closer to the boat, Sylvia...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 880 words.)

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