An email has been circulating telling the story of a teacher who opened her classes the first day in a classroom with no desks. When the children arrived, they were all surprised. They immediately began asking where the desks were. She answered them by telling them that they could not have a desk unless they earned one. Of course, they began wondering what they had to do to earn a desk. They asked if it was a promise to do homework, to listen carefully, or just what it was they had to do to earn a desk. At the end of the day, they were told that there was nothing at the moment they could do to earn a desk as twenty-seven veterans walked into the room each carrying a desk. She explained that the people who had fought for our country had earned the desks for them.
Each school year thousands of dollars are spent in various schools throughout our country to educate our children. This money, of course, comes from the taxpayers. Most children never stop to think about the price that has been, and is being paid, for their education. If they did have that knowledge, perhaps it would make a difference in their appreciation of the opportunity to be educated. No doubt, many students would put more effort into studying and learning.
Would it affect children to start school by walking into a classroom and seeing price tags on all the furniture and books? Each desk, table, chair and book could be labeled with the approximate cost of each. (Books are unbelievably expensive!) It could be announced on the speaker system, occasionally, the approximate cost of food wasted in the dining room. In addition, personal information could be blacked out of a real tax return and passed around to show students that a real, live, person had paid a certain amount for school tax. It might help to tell the children that the people paying the tax money would like to see benefit from money spent by seeing the children working hard to learn.
Undoubtedly there are those who think this learning experience would be cruel to children. Others would beg to differ. Children need to learn truth. When they are continually sheltered from truth and knowledge, what are they really learning? Isn’t it the duty of the educator to provide knowledge to students? Shielding children from the realities of life is not preparing them for those same realities that they will someday have to face.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to truly appreciate the value of a thing when we do not know its cost. Had it not been for those brave folks who fought in World War II, we might all be speaking German instead of English. If it were not for those who are willing to work and pay taxes, we would not have the opportunities for education that we now have. Children need to know and understand, to the best of their ability, the high cost of their education.