Reevaluating school desks

Seats lead to pain, poor posture


Zoe Zeissman

Freshman Isaac Joseph works on an assignment at his desk March 22. Desks can be harmful to students’ posture.

Johanna Kaplan

For junior Kayla Birkeland, school desks are the pinnacle of discomfort. The classic American school desk  — with its hard, plastic seat and unsupportive back — is painful to sit in, according to Birkeland.  

“I can vouch and say that nobody likes these desks. They can burn,” Birkeland said. “If they had better chairs, people would actually focus on their work.”

The wrap-around school desk was first introduced in the ‘70s and serves as primary seating in high school classrooms to this day. Senior Audrey O’brien said this outdated design works against students’ best interests. 

“They want to make school all-over uncomfortable for children, and it’s not cool,” O’Brien said.

Not only are the seats uncomfortable for students, they also make it difficult to maintain good posture, according to junior Jacob Anderson. 

“They’re too short for most people. So if you want to lean back, it hurts and it doesn’t promote good posture. The most comfortable I’ve ever been in these desks is completely bent forward laying down on (them),” Anderson said. 

Posture is key in maintaining good body mechanics, according to physical therapist Sharon Duncan. 

“Posture is important when you’re sitting at the school desk — making sure that your feet are on the floor and that you’re sitting back in your chair, versus slouching forward,” Duncan said.

Sitting in cramped quarters all day long leads to restlessness among students, according to junior Lotus Deuel.

“It makes me want to move around the room because I’m being stationed in one area, and I’m like ‘hmm that corner of the room looks really tempting,’” Deuel said. 

The healthiest way to approach this is simply making sure to build physical activity into your schedule, according to Duncan.

If kids are more comfortable in the classrooms, they’re more comfortable to learn.

— Audrey O'Brien


“If you’re going to sit for an extended period of time, it’s good to get up and change positions and walk around a little bit,” Duncan said. 

At the end of the day, the goal is to make school a more comfortable environment for students, according to O’Brien. 

“If kids are more comfortable in the classrooms, they’re more comfortable to learn,” O’Brien said.