AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASSROOM IN A SLUM English class 12 NCERT Summary and Question answers

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASSROOM IN A SLUM (Stephen Spender) English class 12 NCERT Summary and Question answers


“An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” is a poem written by Stephen Spender that describes the poverty and poor conditions of an elementary school classroom located in a slum area. The poem is an appeal to raise awareness about the plight of children living in poverty and the lack of resources and opportunities they have.

The poem begins by describing the appearance of the students, which shows that they are unwelcome and have depressed facial expressions. The children also have unhealthy bodies inherited from their parents. However, at the end of the classroom, one child is sitting with bright eyes, filled with dreams. This imagery serves to highlight the contrast between the hopelessness of the children’s current situation and their innate potential for a better future.

The classroom itself is described as dirty and muddy, with multiple charts and images hanging on the walls. These posters, including one of Shakespeare and another of the Tyrolese valley, serve as a reminder that the children are disconnected from the knowledge and opportunities represented by these images. They can only see the world outside their classroom through the window, which is the scene of the slums they live in. This imagery highlights the fact that these children have dim and hopeless futures, with limited options and opportunities.

The poet also highlights the lack of nourishment and resources the children have. They are thin, with bones and skeletons visible through their skin, and they wear uncomfortable steel glasses. The government policies that create and maintain the slums are identified as a major cause of the poverty and hopelessness the children face. The children are not able to dream beyond their current situation and are restricted by their living conditions.

“An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” is a powerful and thought-provoking work that highlights the poverty and lack of resources faced by children living in slum areas. The poet calls for action to improve the lives of these students and to provide them with opportunities for education and a brighter future. The poem serves as a reminder of the importance of education and the role of government policies in creating and perpetuating poverty and inequality. It also encourages readers to consider their own privilege and to take action to help those less fortunate.

Imp Questions and Answers

What do you think is the colour of ‘sour cream’? Why do you think the poet has used this expression to describe the
classroom walls?

The color of “sour cream” is not specified in the poem, but it is likely meant to convey the idea of a pale or off-white color. The use of this expression to describe the classroom walls may be meant to convey the idea that the walls are dull or uninviting, in contrast to the lush, beautiful places depicted on the map and pictures in the classroom.

The walls of the classroom are decorated with the pictures of ‘Shakespeare’, ‘buildings with domes’, ‘world maps’ and
beautiful valleys. How do these contrast with the world of these children?

The pictures of Shakespeare, buildings with domes, world maps, and beautiful valleys contrast with the children’s world because they depict a world of beauty, culture, and opportunity, while the children are trapped in a “foggy slum” with limited opportunities for their future. The pictures on the walls serve as a reminder of the vast difference between the children’s reality and the world depicted on the map and in the pictures.

What does the poet want for the children of the slums? How can their lives be made to change ?

The poet wants for the children of the slums to have the opportunity for a better life, with access to “green fields” and the chance to “run naked into books” and learn. He suggests that this can be achieved by breaking open the windows of the classroom, showing the children the world outside their “foggy slum” and “making their world run azure on gold sands.” He also implies that those in power, such as governors, inspectors and visitors, should be held accountable for making this change happen.

Scroll to Top