Some of the best lessons that we learn in life don’t actually come from books or notes or exams. The people that we meet shape who we become. The things that we do and the places that we go add to who we are as individuals on a daily basis. One teacher at this high school decided to stray from the lesson plan just a bit in order to teach these kids a lesson that they will never forget.
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’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 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.”
By the way, this is a true story. Martha Cothren was awarded Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year for the State of Arkansas in 2006. She is the daughter of a WWII POW.
The lesson is powerful, and it taught these children a healthy amount of respect for the men and women fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy today. None of these children fought in a war or faced impossible odds in order to gain their freedom, but they can pursue an education and learn and grow thanks to the efforts of the people who served and are currently serving their country. Although the last class of the day was the only class to witness the answer to her “riddle,” the news spread fast and quickly went viral! This is an incredible story and I wish there were more teachers like her!
To see more inspiring videos, articles, and uplifting content, check out Happy Tango every day! If you loved what you saw here then like and share this with the links below!