Enough for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed

“There's enough for everyone's need, not everyone's greed.”
James Lee Adams, Sr., my grandfather

Sometimes little fish need a chance.

Greed is wanting more than you need.

Websters says “

Intense and selfish desire for something, esp. wealth, power, or food.” 

It is an insatiable desire to accumulate. I don't look down upon those who accumulate wealth and are successful. Greed is not synonymous with wealth, however. We see it in school.

We should all be able to strive and succeed and benefit. The wealthy aren't necessarily greedy. There are those who are poor that can be greedy too.

Someone poor could want to have what others have without working for it. Someone poor could be greedy to have the things that another earned. We can all be greedy for food or power.

How does this relate to school?

Greed in the classroom.


I've seen some kids who are successful who cannot stand the idea of another child being recognized for anything. In fact, as I work to give honest praise, I might praise a child who doesn't usually get it and the child who gets a lot of praise will come to my desk later to point out something the other child did wrong. It is almost like the child who gets a lot of praise thinks there is a finite amount of praise. Greed for all the attention can cause fault finding and a desire to monopolize praise. Don't let it happen. This is often a problem for the academically successful. Don't let them be academically arrogant but inclusive of others, even those not as naturally gifted as themselves.


Greed often happens with children who are ignored at home but misbehave in the classroom because it gives them the attention they crave. By monopolizing attention in the classroom, the student feels important. Being noticed in a bad way is better than being ignored to some students.

Recognize this for what it is and intentionally give positive attention and notice when this is happening. If all of your time is being monopolized by one child, the child may have a need – yes, that is possible – but it is also possible that the child has a greed. A huge, insatiable desire for attention – whatever it takes. And it is often easier to get attention for bad behavior than good behavior.


Some students want to always be heard. The unwise teacher can think that because one or two students speak out and really get it, that everyone understands. This is a lie. Good teachers are good at bringing all students into the conversation. I set boundaries and have often used the poker chip example that I shared in 10 Ways to Talk Less, Listen More, Teach Well.


Of course it can happen with food. There are hungry kids but there are also kids that want more than their fair share and will do whatever it takes to get the food of others.

Greed for all the attention and credit can kill a sense of team.

Greed on the sports field.

Greed can happen on the sports field too. It destroys teamwork when one athlete, gifted though he/ she be, tries to gain more glory without giving respect and honor to the teammates and coach.

Greed can happen when those teammates are jealous of the superstar, even if that superstar is humble.

Greedy teachers?

Greed can happen when I want a moment of peace but a child has a problem and really needs me. There is, however, a need to have a break sometimes. There are teachers who will NEVER give time before school, after school, or during break. “I need my time,” they'll say. Well, my job is to teach and help students and when they miss school, I do often have to tutor before and after school. That is the life of a teacher.

Some teachers want all of the attention and it upsets these teachers when others get praise. We all crave attention and to know we matter but there is no excuse. Rejoice when others have good things happen.

Some want to believe they have all the problems in the world. No one has a life as bad as they do. As soon as one person has a problem, they're unloading their Uzi-machine-gun clip of problems ready to fire to prove they have the worst life. No explanation for this, but I've seen it. I've probably done it a few times when I was having a pity party but it is a form of greed.

Never saying no can be a form of greed. We want to do everything for everybody. WE all have one thing in common… 24 hours. That is all. No more, no less. Sometimes we must say no so we can be honest and balanced.

Greedy parents?

There is a greed when wealthy parents of children, try to exert their monetary influence on the school to also get their children undeserved accolades, positions, or preference.

This requires firm administrators with ethics to stand against this. Sometimes these parents may not know they are doing it, but are just more vocal than most.

Finding the balance.

Teachers are constantly balancing between greed and need. We need to be wise and discerning as often, we are the ones who must find fairness amidst the complexity of human behavior.

Administrators need this fairness and balance as well.

There's enough for everyone's need but not everyone's greed. 

Greed is destructive if left unchecked. The greedy child may not realize it is happening or what he/she is doing. You can help these situations in positive, encouraging ways by pointing out the value of everyone.

I like to teach about brainstorming and group dynamics and point out that often students who are quiet have great things to add. Great leaders bring out everyone and don't monopolize the conversation or the project.

Greed takes many forms and it isn't just money. It can be attention, resources, praise. Scarcity can also cause greed – if people think that not much praise will be doled out — they may fight for what little they think there will be.

Why not create a situation where praise is lavish, but honest? A place where fairness resides. I know this sounds like heaven on earth, and that it may not be possible, however, as teachers and administrators, we must clearly be aware of the greed/need balance as we help meet the needs of everyone while combatting greed that breaks down teamwork and harms morale.

Now, I need to get to school — and that really is a need.

PS. This applies more than ever in the #edreform and #ebook movements as well as the desire to inundate students with advertising messages wherever they are.

– Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

Photo Credit: Big Stock, you may not reuse photos unless you license them directly on their website or you are breaking copyright law.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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