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"Plastics"

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Local Blogs - Curt Dennison Photography
Saturday, 10 April 2010

My son, Hunter, went to take the driving test and I was the one transported. I was transported back to 1970 and 5th grade.

When I walked into the brand new  Manor View Elementary I was confronted with "New Education". There were four 5th grade classes in a large room called a Pod with each of the individual classes situated in one of the corners. The space in the middle was the common area.

Aside from the very attractive young teachers, I remember most that the furniture was sleek and modern. We no longer had the classic wooden desks of the 40's and 50's, we now had shiny metal and plastic chairs that probably came from nearby Goddard Space Center. The standard 1070's color scheme of Harvest Gold and Avocado Green was in ful force and floated on a sea of Navy Blue carpet.

In the normal setup, there were no desks. Instead, we sat in a three layer semi-circle around Ms. Chapel as she imparted knowledge and then, when it was time for us to actually work, there were large "community" areas with tables. The other classes were permitted to roam and intermingle as we did this work, which, in hindsight, seems almost a bizarre experiment given the fragility and paranoia of the Cold War climate we all lived in as military brats.

I was only at the Manor View Elementary for one year because the following year was 6, 7 & 8th grade at General Douglas McArthur Junior High School. That's a whole adventure unto itself, suffice it to say that the Military was back in Military Education and the fuzzy "love and learn" was gone forever. From that year until I quit high school and went to college, academia was a total boor.

But I will always remember those chairs. I took this photo in the stark hallway of the lower level of Washington City Hall and was struck by the contrast between my warm memories of my fifth-grade school and the clinical indifference of the current surroundings. I was also reminded of Mrs. McGuire saying to Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate..."Plastics".

 

Peace, Curt 

 
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