Origins of ordinary things: The school desk

It would be strenuous to write notes at school without a desk. That’s why almost all the schools ensure that each student is assigned one, or at least has one to share with his/her peers.

The first scholars did not have desks; they used benches. According to The Essex Group, a United Kingdom educational furniture supplier, the reason for this is that at the time, there were few children going to school. Some were homeschooled while a large number simply weren’t acquiring any education at all. They were working in factories or working for their parents.

During the late 1800s, in 1881 to be specific, the Sydney School Furniture Company made the first school desk. Dubbed the “Fashion School Desk,” it was made in different styles suited for children of different ages. Around this time, laws were enacted in support of this piece of furniture, making it a success. This is according to Classroom, an online educational resource.

During the 1920s, according to the online Ed Tech Magazine which focuses on Education and Technology, pupils increasingly owned writing paper and textbooks. It was thus observed that there was need for a place to keep their scholastic material. Because of this, desks with cubbyholes were created.

The Fashion School Desk made in the late 1800s with cubbyholes are very much similar to the versions that are being created today.

In 1899, standing desks which had been made for office use during the 1400s were reintroduced. They were made in such a way that whoever wanted to use one had to keep on their feet. They were thought to increase creativity and focus and reduce health problems related to sitting down for long periods of time. According to UK Educational Furniture Company, a number of influential creatives such as Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemmingway vouched for the standing desk.

In the 1970s, a wraparound desk that is attached to a chair and encloses a student’s body was made. It is still in use today. According to Ed Tech Magazine, the way it works is that a student who wants to use it lifts the side of the desk that isn’t attached to the chair and then places it back once he/she is seated.

In the 21st Century, there are desks of different fashions, designs and functions. A school can decide which one best suits their budget, style or students’ needs.