Teacher Removes All Desks From Her Classroom, Tells Students They Must ‘Earn’ Them

It’s safe to say that most adults accuse those of more recent generations of having a sense of entitlement that their age never had. But, believe it or not, this isn’t a new argument, it’s actually one that dates back for hundreds of years. That said, it’s still a good idea to teach our kids to appreciate everything they’ve been given. However, it’s also important to remember that we are all guilty, from time to time, of taking certain things for granted as we go about living our lives. For example, most of us expect that when we wake up in the morning, our bank accounts will have the money it should have in it. We also expect to be able to go to nearly any grocery store and find the foods we want. In this story, one teacher makes the bold decision to remove every one of her students’ desks from her classroom. Once you learn her reason, you’ll want to stand up and cheer.

In September, a social studies school teacher from Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom.

The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks.

They obviously looked around and said, “Where are our desks?”

The teacher said, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn them.”

They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she said.

“Maybe it’s our behavior.”

And she told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”

And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing. Third period. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in the class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom. The last period of the day, the instructor gathered her class.

They were by this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room.

She said, “Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom. Now I’m going to tell you.”

She went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. By the time they had finished placing the desks those kids, for the first time I think perhaps in their lives, understood how they earned those desks.

Their teacher said, “You don’t have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don’t ever forget it.”

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