GOOD GROUNDING – The role of colour in education
It’s back to school for our little learners as schools commenced their academic year, once again under strict Covid protocols.
The role of colour is a surprising success factor in establishing a good grounding for education.
Colour is extremely important in education.
Not only does it affect attention and absorption of information, but it also plays an important role in moderating behaviour and attitude: too many stimuli and the senses are overloaded, too little and productivity suffers.
Beyond the decorative and functional considerations such as the size and light in a classroom, the placement of desks and blackboards, the colour of the learning environment directly impacts our emotions and unavoidably affects our mood and motivation.
A combination of age-appropriate splashes of colour mixed with muted neutrals is recommended to produce desirable outcomes in education – either feature walls and/or floors with neutral furniture, or muted walls with coloured furniture accents.
A study by Rice1 (1953) states that the academic success of kindergarten (nursery) and elementary (primary) schools is more positive when paint colours are carefully planned. These can be either happy, stimulating and exciting, producing the positive effect of reduced absenteeism, or depressing and monotonous, resulting in poorer outcomes.
The connection between colour and cognitive brain development cannot be ignored.
Sinofski & Knirck (1981) found the colour of a classroom can affect the degree of information absorption. They also influence the students’ and teachers’ concept of time, affecting attention span and learning. Lighter colours are more supportive of learning than darker ones while cool colours lower blood pressure and heart beats which is more conducive for concentration and learning. According to Boss & Jackson (1981), colours that are liked by kids affect muscle tension and motor control skills.
“Colour accomplishes a small constructive feat contrary to what gloomy environments can never do”, says Franke Mahnke (1987) explaining the significance of colour in education. It is important in protecting eye health, promoting creativity and productivity as well as preventing problems such as anxiety, nervousness, loss of interest and behavioural problems.
Children with ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) or learning disabilities may find overstimulating or unsuitable colour choices exacerbate their conditions as they battle to concentrate or become bored. Warm colours increase activity while cool colours promote relaxation and calm.
The age of the learners is also an important factor in the selection of the appropriate colours.2
Here is a basic guideline:
• Younger 3 – 6 year olds are lured by intense primary colours such as yellow or red, which are effective in capturing their attention but do not contribute to their learning. Be careful of overstimulation through the use of too much or too many colours.
• Pre- and primary school kids are attracted to warmer bright colours that complement their energy but will reduce anxiety, tension or excitement. Salmon pink, pale peach, light yellow are good options.
• Elementary school-goers need a boost for their attention and concentration – green or blue are appropriate for this age, but the hue or intensity are equally important. The colour of the wall that faces the students, as well as the opposite wall that faces the teacher is also vitally important. The students’ eyes must not strain as they are required to focus for long periods, whereas the tone of the wall facing the teacher must be calming as it will affect his/her mood and energy which will be transferred to the class. Bright colours can be used to draw attention to a focal point e.g.: behind a blackboard.
• High school – lighter greens and blues promote increased concentration and calmness as the light radiated from these shades decreases blood pressure and heart rate, conducive to learning and focus. These colours are more mature instead of youthful and energetic.
• Laboratories and mathematics rooms – as dreaded, difficult subjects it is important not to be dark and boring but rather select a colour such as blue that promotes attention and calmness
• Corridors and hallways – select age and activity appropriate colours for the pupils ie. Livelier for pre-school and calmer for secondary and high school/university students
• Libraries – passive shades of natural greens promote serenity, peace and quiet
• Canteens/cafeterias – warm colours stimulate appetite and eating is often associated with happiness so bright cheerful colours are well placed
• Sports centres – warm, energetic shades of reds, oranges, and bright yellows
• Arts and crafts centres – luminous bright shades stimulate creativity and passion
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The benefits of buying local are obvious: Kaleidoscope of colours available on demand, convenient size for easy installation, minimal waste that is recycled, uncoated surface for easy welding joins with post-installation polymer coating for easy cleaning and maintenance. Who wouldn’t want that? Specify SA. Everyone wins.
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Source1: (Renk Etkisi, “The importance of colors in education,” January 2022, http://renketkisi.com/en/the-importance-of-colors-in-education.html#:~:text=According%20to%20this%20research%20study,in%20comparison%20to%20darker%20ones )
Source2: (Renk Etkisi, “The use of color in schools,” January 2022, http://renketkisi.com/en/the-use-of-colors-in-school.html)