Ipswich High Schoolers Love These “Pods”, and They Surprisingly Have Nothing to do with Nicotine

Ben DiBello and Samuel Fitzpatrick

Merriam-Webster defines pod as “a usually protective container or housing”. The pods of Ipswich High School perfectly fit this definition. The pods in our school are protective and they certainly are containers. At Ipswich High School the classrooms are laid out in circular “pods” with a large opening between all eight classrooms. Classes often request to work in the open “pod”. Many teachers offer students the opportunities to work in the pod on occasion because most students seem to prefer working in the pod. When polled at random 80% of IHS students claim they prefer working in a pod to working in a classroom. The question we asked was “Why?”.

One explanation for why students prefer to work in the pod is that the physical environment of the pod helps students focus more. A study done by thebestschools.org found that students with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) focus better after being active first. So maybe the ability to be active moving into the pod and being in the pod itself gives students the physical activity they need to be able to focus properly.

There is also a learning theory called Open Space Learning (OSL) which states that people are more mentally productive when they are in a physically open space i.e. no limited chairs and tables. The pod offers this environment to students. Even though most students are likely unaware of this theory, they could be subconsciously aware that the open space of the pod makes them more productive.

When interview, many students said they preferred the pod because it gave them a new environment. Senior student, Cole Schildkraut agrees; he prefers the pod because it “gives [him] more freedom and a change of scenery”. Many students also discussed the level of freedom they have in the pod. This begs the question “Do students work in the pod to get away from adult supervision?”.  A senior student who requested to be listed anonymously said that students that work in the pod are often time “hooligans” or “trouble-makers”. These students go into the pod, so they can blow-off the school work and “fool around”.

All these theories are certainly interesting, but English teacher, Mr. Timothy Sidmore offered a very unique opinion. When asked why he thinks students preferred the pod, he said the following, “[Working in the pod] breaks down the barrier for traditional expectations for behavior and engagement. It allows students to feel at ease.” Mr. Sidmore also said that he feels some students are more productive in the pod and some students are less productive. He stated, “It depends on the student. some students work well, others don’t. If you give some students trust they will work well, however, some students do require constant supervision.” Our anonymous Senior student also mentioned this issue. Students who are given the opportunity to work in pod often have the temptation to not work on school work. The issue teachers have is weighing the risk of a lack of productivity versus extreme productivity.

A pod is a great tool for learning. It can certainly increase work productivity and it definitely increases the enjoyment of the student. The pod gives students freedom and students can either take advantage of that freedom and be unproductive or students can use that freedom to be more productive. Some students may abuse the power they have when working in the pod, but teachers don’t seem to allow those students to ruin the fun for the rest of us.

Overall, we are grateful for the existence of pods at Ipswich High School. We are aware that many high schools in the surrounding areas do not have pods to work in and we think that is kind of sad. The pods are not only tools for learning, but they are also a part of our school. The pods have shaped the culture of our students since the beginning of middle school, back when we would have met in the pod with our full grades. We can’t imagine going to a high school that does not have pods.