I. Stanza 1
1 “Far far…this.”
- Identify the figures of speech used in the first line (at least three).
- Why have the children been compared to “rootless weeds”? What figure of speech is it?
- Prepare a list of students that you find in the classroom, and mention the quality, trait or feature that stands out for each.
- What is so significant about the expression, “rat’s eyes”?
- Bring out the irony in the expression, “unlucky heir”.
- How according to you is the last boy in the class different from the rest? Do you think he brings in hope amid despair, hopelessness and gloom?
II. Stanza 2
“On sour cream…words.”
- What figure of speech has the poet used in the first line? What impact does the expression, “sour cream” have on the overall atmosphere in the Elementary School Classroom?
- Identify one example of Synecdoche used in the first line. Explain why it has been used.
- Draw an itemized list of “donations” that people have made for the elementary school classroom.
- What is an “open-handed map” and why is not as good as “these windows” when it comes to representing or “Awarding the world its world”?
- Explain, “all their future’s painted with a fog,” what figure of speech is “fog”?
- Explain, “A narrow street sealed in with a lead sky”.
- How is the last line of the second stanza related to the first line of the first stanza?
- What do the words, “stars of words” refer to?
III. Stanza 3
- Why is “Shakespeare wicked”? Why is “the map a bad example”?
- In what way do “ships and sun and love” tempt them to steal?
- What does the poet mean by the expression, “lives that turn in their cramped holes”? What do “cramped holes” refer to?
- Identify the figure of speech used in the fourth line.
- What does, “slag heap” refer to?
- Explain, “skins peeped through by bones”.
- What is the pun in the words, “spectacles of steel”?
- Why does the poet want to “blot their maps with slums as big as doom”? What kind of a mood is the poet in?
IV. Stanza 4
- What does the poet what "governor, inspector, visitor" to do?
- What will happen when “governor, inspector, visitor” don’t do what the poet wants them to do?
- Identify the figure of speech used in the third line and explain its use.
- What is the symbolic meaning of “gold sands,” “books” and “green leaves”?
- Although not specifically mentioned, who is the ideal teacher as hinted or implied by the poet in the last stanza?
- What examples of experiential learning do you find in the last stanza?
- What does the poet mean by the expression, “History theirs whose language is the sun”?
Short answer questions
- Write a brief note on the poet’s style of writing.
- What is the problem of the elementary school children in a slum, and what is Spender’s solution to the problem?
- How do the donations in the elementary school classroom impact the students?
Long answer questions
- Explain how Spender’s Poem, An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum describes the economics of the lack of equity. Describe how an artificially created need for Shakespeare’s literature, paintings, and an open-handed map have impacted the children.
- Explain how it is a fallacy to believe that one can teach underprivileged children on an empty stomach.
- Justify the statement that An Elementary School Classroom highlights the gulf that exists between the rich and the poor.