I got this from an old family friend with this email-
As you might remember I was a navy gun fire control man during the Korean war. I served aboard the Cruiser USS Manchester from 1951 to 1954. I am a member in good standing with the Cruiser Sailor’s Association and as such receive a quarterly magazine with all kind of Cruiser stories and other good articles. “Desks” appeared in this quarter’s magazine and I think it is one of the very best articles I have had the pleasure to read in quite a long time. I am enclosing an .rft copy of the article for you and wish, if you see fit, you would pass it along to your friends. It is the way things should be in our schools. This teacher is wise beyond her years.
I like this teacher. A lesson that should be taught in all schools … And colleges.
Back in September of 200S, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principle and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.
When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.
“Ms. Cothren, where’re our desks?” She replied, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.”
They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades…” “No,” she said.
‘Maybe it’s our behavior.” She told them…” 0 it’s not even your behavior.”
And so, they came and went, the first period. second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom. B early afternoon, news crews had started gathering in Ms. Cothren’ classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room .
The final period of the day came, and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said, “Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me what he/she has done to earn the right y to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom.
Now I am going to tell you.”
At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of of her classroom and opened it. Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniform, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place, those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.
Martha said, “You didn’t earn the right to sit at those desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it’s up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don’t ever forget it…”
And a lesson a few adults need to learn too…