The Middle School’s True Colors

Imagine you are in a room. On one wall, there are windows to the outside and underneath them is a line of dirty white radiators. The floor is hard gray squares, and the ceiling is off-white rectangular panels. A few sand colored metal fans hang lazily from the ceiling. The walls are rough cinder blocks, painted half dark-tan and half off-white. You are in a stripped-down classroom in the Sharpless building.

The color of a room sets the tone of the space. Besides liking or disliking a color, certain colors have different effects on a person, often having to do with associations in his or her daily life. Have you ever walked into a bright red classroom? Probably not. Although red energizes you, it also heightens your senses, increases your breathing rate and makes you hungrier. In short, it makes you more aware and often anxious because it is associated with alarming things such as ambulances and fire engines (or poisonous red berries, going back in time.) Similar to red, large amounts of yellow is energizing and sometimes irritating, but a bit of yellow makes most people happy, and according to math teacher Peter Lai, “yellow stimulates the math part of your brain.”

Blue and green have calming affects and reduce stress, as they are associated with the peacefulness of nature. Plants and other natural objects are also calming. Why is it that only a few classrooms are painted blue, if it has such positive effects?

Not only are tan, beige and off-white simple and non-distracting colors; they are said to be calming and make people feel happy. Off-white has also been said to be the best color for learning because of these reasons.

Most students, when asked what they thought of the colors of the classroom walls replied with “they should change it” (“they” who?) or a simple “What?” Although off-white and tan may not be the most interesting colors, do the color of the walls need to be changed? No, but no one can deny the pleasantness of a light blue room.