Search This Blog

Friday, April 06, 2007

Nobody Will Forget This Lesson...

I was sure the following was just another urban legend until I checked it out on


In September of 2005, a social studies schoolteacher 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's 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 at 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 ordinarily. 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."



Law and Order Teacher said...

That might the coolest lesson I've ever heard of. I was in the military 1971-75. When I taught Vietnam I showed the students my Vietnam Service Medal. They were impressed. I was worried to do it because I didn't want the students to think I thought I was a war hero. I wanted them to know that wars are fought by people. They think wars are a video game. It's very frustrating. Great lesson! BTW thanks for the advice. I'll use it.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks again for your help, I'll give it a try.

Ms. B. said...

Wow! What a neat lesson -- like other good lessons, one that I would like to steal and use myself! Powerful!