Function trumps aesthetics when it comes to colour in the learning environment. The latest colour trend or any other such frivolities have no rule here. The reason to pick a blue over a red or an orange over a purple is the science of colour psychology. A well-executed colour palette can enhance the absorption of information that facilitates the thinking process.
There are age guidelines to follow and the age of the students is an important factor to consider. The warmer side of the palette (red/orange/yellow) is preferred by preschool and elementary school students while the cooler side of the colour wheel (blue/green/mauve) is preferred by high school and post-secondary level students. These cooler tones work not only with focus but levels out hormones too and help support study and increase calmness.
Here are some functional colour types for high school and post-secondary classes:
1. For science and math based classrooms, a blue colour family works well by lowering the heart rate and allowing concentration to kick in.
2. The Green family of colour consists of the calm of blue and the creativity of yellow. Greens are great for counselling, libraries, history and social studies spaces being the natural colour of balance.
3. For classrooms dealing with languages and other creative pursuits like fine art, dance, culinary arts, gentle energy of yellows are great.
4. Athletic facilities, drama, media centres and cafeteria settings should be supported with orange and peach tones.
5. Stronger colours should be used in school entrances and hallways to uplift the energy in the walk between classes, balanced out with neutrals.
Remember variety and the amount of variety are important. Too much variety can strain the mind with overstimulation whereas too little can instigate boredom and introversion. Variety in colour in classrooms has proven to support the learning process and reduce strain and fatigue on eyes.
In one type of classroom, calm pale neutral works for most of the room with the front wall in a functional mid tone which allows the students to intermittently rest their eyes from the high contrast of the text they are absorbing. A support colour can come into play at the back of the room to give the instructor a boost since they are usually facing the back wall.
We are always creating an atmosphere when dealing with colour in any environment. It is a wonderful opportunity to develop a unique and functioning palette for an educational application.