Creating A Productive Learning Environment: The Importance Of Color

1071 words - 4 pages

It is the first day of school and an excited kindergartener is glowing as he approaches his classroom. He has been waiting for this day for months, but now that it is here, he feels the butterflies in his stomach, nervous about his new environment. Upon entering the classroom, he looks around amazed at all the posters on the walls, the alphabet above the white board, and the bright colors all over the room. He stands there for a moment with his eyes wide open and a gigantic smile emanates upon his face. At that moment in time, all the nervousness, all the annoying little butterflies, went away and only pure excitement permeated his emotions. Although the totality of the room made him feel safe, a considerable part of that environment is color. Teachers have a foremost responsibility to create a productive learning environment as this child’s teacher did. Therefore, what is it that makes color so important? In reference to the child mentioned above, his nervousness subsided upon entering the classroom; is this even possible? Moreover, can it actually affect the way students learn?
There have been numerous studies on the effects of color on the brain and emotions, in not only adults but children as well. In fact, one series of tests by engineers at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company indicated that when a person is subjected to a certain color for even as little as five minutes, their mental and muscular activity changes according to their physiological response to that color. In other words, the emotional or cognitive response to a color can literally affect a person’s physical state. In addition, studies have identified color as affecting various mental conditions. This is due to the retina’s relationship with the hypothalamus, which controls the autonomic nervous system. The conditions mentioned as being affected by color can range anywhere from jet lag to attention deficit disorder (ADD) and post-traumatic stress conditions. In 1990, the annual conference of the American Association of the Advancement of Science reported on the successful use of blue light in the treatment of a wide variety of psychological problems, including addictions, eating disorders, impotence, and depression. Also, researcher Harry Wohlfarth (1955) uncovered sizeable relationships between color and changes in blood pressure, pulse, respiration rate, IQ, academic performance, illness, mood, aggression, and even dental health.
It is clear then, that color has a powerful effect on individuals both physically and emotionally. With this in mind, teachers would do best to analyze the impact it has on their students, especially the younger ones, who are in the early stages of intellectual development. Reinforcing Wohlfarth’s (1955) findings is a one-year study that included 700 students, attending four different schools. These students underwent an extensive series of tests to monitor changes in a variety of psychological and physiological realms. When the...

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