Saturday, June 27, 2009

Goodbye to the pod

St. Catharines turned a routine capital funding / groundbreaking story in Grimsby into a story explaining the death of the 'pod,' an open-concept grouping of classrooms that was all the rage in school construction in the 1960s and early 1970s. It's fun to go around today and find the schools built or expanded in that era that have pods, and what they're being used for today.
In some schools, drywall has been erected to close off the spokes within each pod so that classrooms can have some semblance of individuality. In others, the pods have been turned into libraries, activity rooms or other more open-space uses.
Our Lady of Fatima's 17 new classrooms will have space for 450 students when it opens.
The single-storey school will also have a music room, work stations, full gymnasium and stage -- and not a single open-concept classroom anywhere in the building.
Principal Michael Hendrickse said the students deserve the new school. "It takes a lot of cooperation among the teachers to make sure things get done and get done well," he said about Our Lady of Fatima's eight open classrooms or pods -- a concept popular in the 1960s but eventually criticized for providing too many distractions to students.
The other story that's fun to write is the 'portapak' obit... no more spongy floors, vermin crawling under floors, strange smells and poor ventilation.