The Importance of Colors in Education

In choosing colors in the field of education, it is important to choose functional colors instead of aesthetic ones. In a space with too much stimuli the senses are overloaded. Contrary to this, the colors used at some places can cause stress or can have so little stimulating effect that they cannot encourage productivity. In other words, lack of stimuli can sometimes be as damaging as having it in excess. Studies conducted demonstrate that personal differences as well as gender must be taken into consideration in choosing colors to ensure that they benefit learning.

It was discovered in a scientific study conducted by Sinofsky and Knirck (1981) that colors affect the behavior, attitude, attention span and learning of students as well as the time concept of both the students and teachers. According to this research study, the color of a classroom can affect the degree students are able to absorb information. Studies conducted recently and in the past show that lighter colors are more supportive of learning in comparison to darker ones.

Rice (1953) states that the academic success of kindergarten and elementary school students is affected more positively when paint colors are planned carefully. According to another study, colors chosen in schools can give rise to a depressive and monotonous atmosphere as well as a happy, exciting and stimulating one. It has been observed that carefully chosen school colors can create a positive effect as well as reduce absenteeism.

According to Bross and Jackson (1981), school colors that are well liked by the students will have an effect on muscle tension as well as motor control skills. Many other studies have also shown that cool colors affect and lower blood pressure. (Wohlfarth, 1986; Sydoriak, 1987; Hathaway, 1988; Faily, 1979). Colors that affect blood pressure as well heart rhythm are important as they increase the attention span of the children, which in turn benefits learning. A reduction in blood pressure and aggressive behavior has also been observed, even in visually impaired children, as a result of the changes made to colors used in the environment. (Wohlforth and Sam 1982)

Franke Mahnke (1987) explains the significance of color in the field of education as follows:

“Color accomplishes a small constructive feat contrary to what gloomy environments can never do... The leaders in education must understand how essential the psycho-physiologic contribution of a school’s physical facilities is to its educational environment. Appropriate colors are important in terms of protecting eye health, providing a creative and productive space and protecting physical and mental health. Many problems such as nervousness, uneasiness, loss of interest and behavioral problems arise due to deficient conditions and environments, unplanned light and colors.”

Research studies show that the light emitted by different colors can alter blood pressure, pulse, breathing, brain activity and biorhythms. (Gruson, 1982) Children seek activities and areas of game through which they can let free their anger, emotional concerns and change of moods. Within this context, the warm colors of the Filli Boya color scheme can be used to increase activity and the cool colors for relaxation and achieving calm.

In addition to the physical factors in a classroom, such as the color of the walls, size of the windows and placement of the desks, the energy of the teachers is also important. If a teacher is not motivated or is negative in behavior this will have a direct effect on the students. For this reason, the placement of the teacher’s desk, as well as the daylight entering the classroom and the color of the wall the teacher faces are really important too. If the teacher faces and looks at a stimulating wall color all day long, he/she may become tense after some time, and this can have a negative effect on the students. If the color of the wall is a calming one, affecting the eye and mental health, the mood of the teacher will be more balanced.

In 1976, Rikard Kuller demonstrated that colors and visual patterns affect not only the outer layer of the brain, but the entire central nervous system as well. He also demonstrated that colors alter the alpha brain wave activity that is used to measure the degree of mental wakefulness in humans in the medical field. Additionally, when color is relayed to the brain by the eye, the brain releases a hormone that affects our emotions, energy levels and mental clarity.

Some behavioral problems can be related to children with Attention Deficiency/Hyperactivity or learning disabilities in the classroom. Many stimulating and unsuitable colors available in the classroom can exacerbate the symptoms of these children.

Colors are a part of our lives and experiences. They affect our emotions and influence our subconscious or over-conscious. The majority of a student’s time is spent sitting in the classroom. This space is necessary for them to learn and use many skills that will render them successful in a global community. The classroom is the place where students learn their place in the world. It is the place where they will shape their futures, decide what they want, what they want to be and set up their objectives. If a classroom is this important for the development of a child, then it carries great importance to design and paint that classroom according to the children.

Many research studies show that people feel warmer in some rooms compared to others although the temperatures are the same. The feeling of warmth is due to the use of colors such as red, orange, yellow or chocolate brown.

Red and chocolate brown would be too flashy as wall colors and provide excessive stimuli; therefore, feelings of warmth can be created by choosing furniture in this color instead.

It has been shown in a study conducted by Torice and Logrippo (1989) that active children prefer cool colors, while serene and easy-going ones feel more comfortable in the presence of warm colors.

Morton (1995) says that “a color’s purity and contrast with other colors is more important than the warmth of that color”. Yoğun asserts that “a shade of green can sometimes stimulate a person as much as an intense red”. If an area of learning is to be created, care must be taken not to have too many stimuli in the same space. Having too many colors is another form of having too many stimuli regardless of the warmth or shade of those colors. The human brain continuously strives to arrange the visual information received. Too much color, light, action or pattern will be distracting and the brain will have difficulty in visual search. Sometimes a learning space can cause stress and tension due to the availability of too many colors. (Verghese 2001)