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Q&A-Color & Learning

Brain compatible colors & learning

What colors attract children's attention?

How colors affect learning

Classroom color and autism

Brain Compatible Colors & Learning

Karen S.
I am seeking information about color in the classroom. I am specifically interested in colors that are brain-compatible, i.e. colors that do not antagonize the brain. There is a world of research out there about the human brain and learning. Attention to environment plays a significant role, and color is important in creating the brain compatible environment. What colors best accommodate learning? What colors might be annoying or distracting to Attention Deficit Disorder? Thanks.

Jerry F. RunnerSmith
Read "The Owner's Manual for the Brain" by Pierce J. Howard, Ph.D. available from The Brain Store, a service of The Turning Point Learning Institute in San Diego, CA. As Headmaster of a small private school, I have seen true brain compatible strategies work to the benefit of our students (birth through grade 8). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What colors attract children's attention?

What colors attract children's attention? Are there any colors that encourage learning or interest in children. Please respond- any magazines, journals, or site reccommendations would be a great help.

What colors attract children will most likely not be the colors which are condusive to learning. Read up on what Rudolf Steiner wrote about color and about education.

Xandrea :
Bright , happy colors attract their attention. I cadet teach at the Elem. school. Stuents pay closer attention when bright colors introduced.

 How Colors Effect Learning

I am doing a persuasive writing prompt on how I think that the school's beige walls should be painted to help students be more creative. Maybe even paint murals. Does anyone know how or which colors effect your mood and personality? Is there any proof I could back this claim on? Which colors would be best? Jenny:

Justin (from England):
Jenny, My advice would be to try and gain access to the Psychlit/Psychinfo CD-roms. This would give you experiments that have been conducted on colour, mood and learning. A study that is worth getting hold of is form the Journal of Perceptual and Motor Skills( Aug, Vol 69(1) 179-185) by P. Hamid et., al (1989). Im not sure if the journal is British, American or from New Zealand. In this study the researcher looked at the effects of colour on physical strength and mood in children aged 50- 55 months. And specifically looked at the effects of blue and pink. The results showed that S's displayed greater physical strength, and produced highly positve mood paintings under the pink condition compared with the blue. This was carried out over seven days under each colour condition, a grey control condition resulted in intermediate effects. The paintings were measured by judges ratings. There are many specfic journals relating to colour, mood and learning its just a case of tracking them down. If you have a good inter-library lone system you will have no trouble, but try to get access to above cd-roms. hope its useful

fen-shui would be good for you to look at, if you get hold of a good book it quite clearly states different colour and there effects on people moods. For instence they believe that a room pained in light purple evokes conversation. There is also a web page called which has a chronolgical bibliograhy on colour theory, which lists tonnes of books. I am writing my dissatation on colour and the way it sffects our moods and characters, also people from different places in the world perceive colour. If you have any info that might be handy please e-mail me. I'll keep you posted as I disscover more! have a good day!

I'll hazard a guess in response to your question "...how the environment in classroom effects student's learning...". In a few respects I think the Answer is: ~~~ Not Much ~~~ If the teacher, professor, lecturer, whatever is a total bore, confusing, poorly prepared, unskilled, has no ability to draw you in as a listener, or is just plain brain dead, even a stunning, fabulous, colorful room with dazzling lights, more dramatic than a Broadway show, will do little to help or affect your learning.

 If the teacher is magnetic, can hold your attention, has super material that you want to know, etc., then he/she could teach student in a darkened mud puddle in the basement and have a profound effect. Do you see what I'm saying? - - - - Yes, color and light may have some affect, secondary, etc. Yes, perhaps measureable too. But look at the whole picture, the whole situation and environment. Examining (only) two types of stimuli (light & color) that are blended into 10 other stimuli will likely result in skewed experimental results and conclusions. - - - When you took your driver's education training to get a license, did the color of the car interior 'make your day'? (I doubt you could tell me what color it was, yes?) Or were you far more affected when the examiner yelled "No!! You're driving the wrong way down this One Way Street!" - - - A suggestion, if you want to do a short research paper: Propose that Light / Color are, in most instances, secondarily affective stimuli. Show that words, control, situational events, conditioning, motivation, and related things are usually magnitudes of order more 'affective' as a collective stimulus set. Sound neat? - - - Hey, was it 'really' the green blackboard that inspired you to be a valedictorian (?) or was it some deeper, greater set of catalysts? Regards, Mac

"What colors should classrooms be painted to facilitate learning? What colors should teachers wear?" Maybe a few questions would lead us to the answers? Let's identify a starting point, ok? Given: An 'averagely' (is that a word?) dressed teacher, in an color with common or blase or average colors teaching an average course. (Mediocre enough?) :-) Situation: Some students pay attention. Some pay more, some less. A few may lapse off into a brief coma or attempt 'flatlining'. So, let's assume the attention or involvement curve is Gaussian (omitting students suffering from rigor mortis). :-) Objectives: Increase student - participation, involvement, engagement, awareness, interest. Enable the student - to focus on the subject matter. [Let's skip over any hopes that a given color will magically increase student IQ's by 50 points, ok?] Environmental Attributes Being Considered for Change: 1. The teacher's dress color. 2. The room color (all visual stimuli) * * * * * POSSIBLE changes: Let's do this in a multiple choice format. (Other readers here can then provide their suggested alternatives) :) A. Teacher's Dress 1. Wear a brightly color dress. 2. Wear a darker or duller, non-stimulating dress. 3. Wear a provocative dress. 4. Stand behind a moveable blackboard, hiding yourself completely. 5. Wear any number of colors and combinations, but avoid anything so stimulating that it becomes the primary focus of the class. B. Room Color 1. Paint and decorate the room with very intense & bright colors 2. Paint the room completely Black. 3. Paint the room Fluorescent Purple and apply hugh fluorescent yellow polka dots to the surfaces. 4. Paint the room with a harmonious combination of color, using some primary and secondary, etc. colors. Which would you select? Regards, Mac

I am writing a story for a school magazine on color as a stimulant in the classroom. I have researched and found that yellow is a wonderful color to use in the classroom because it actually stimulates braincells. Green is also good because it provides both motivation and balance. In my opinion, your grey walls are certainly having a negative effect on the learning enviornment of the classroom.

Classroom Color and Autism

Our twenty year old school has strong colors (orange walls in this classroom). We need to select a wall color which will not stimulate autistic students simply by being in the room so that we (and they) can focus on a task at hand. David Goin

David I have worked many years in color, lighting and design with mentally impaired individuals, and at present a niece that is autistic. What I have found with these individuals, and especially my niece who I have observed from the age of 6 months, is that it takes very little to overstimulate them. Their environment should be very orderly, calm, and monochromatic. Mary a previous post, had mentioned blue and green as being good colors and she is correct, these colors calm, relax, and nuture. But more than these colors, you need to have a LOT of negative (blank) space in these rooms with light neutral colors as Mary suggested. Use bright colors as accent colors in the form of pictures, and/or seasonal display but be careful even with that, don't use very much. Surfaces with strong value contrast, especially flooring, can cause problems; the autistic person sometimes does not see a black and white tiled floor as black and white, but the white tile as the floor and the black tile as a hole and will be afraid to walk on it. The flooring should be close in value and hue to the walls. It has been very enlightening working so closely with my niece and observing her progress. As a side line she has had sound therapy and it is a miracle what that has done for her!

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