For years, researchers have been evaluating the influence of color on our emotional state, as well as on our ability to learn. In 1976, Rikard Kuller demonstrated that color and visual patterns affect the cortex and the central nervous system. Color has also been proven to alter the level of alpha brain wave activity, a measurable indicator of human alertness. In addition, when the human eye takes in color, the brain releases a hormone which affects our moods, mental clarity and energy level. These findings can have a monumental impact on schools and other educational facilities by promoting productivity and focus in the classroom. In fact, color may be as important as comfortable classroom chairs and classroom tables for student efficiency. Even the color of school lockers can add much to the atmosphere in the classroom.
Color and Eye Strain
Concentrating on school work at a desk, and then shifting focus to a board or distant area over and over again, is a demanding task for a student’s eyes. Researchers have found that the eye relaxes more when it stops to rest on a different color than that of its previous focal point. Therefore, to alleviate eye strain in a classroom, the wall facing the students should be painted in a different shade than the rest of the room. When students look up from their desks, the colored wall helps their eyes relax. For best results, the end wall colors should be a medium hue like blue, green or light purple, while the other walls should be neutral- with colors like oyster white, sandstone or beige.
Color and Brain Stimulation
Research has also shown that small color changes can make a difference by stimulating a person’s brain. In an environmental color coordination study conducted by the US Navy, researchers found that the introduction of color caused a 28% drop in accidents. Color in the classroom has also been found to increase productivity and to enhance the student’s attention span. A 1983 study by Harry Wohlfarth evaluated students at four elementary schools, monitoring their performances under the influence of improved lighting and color conditions, and a lack thereof. The students who were exposed to enhanced lighting and additional colors showed a marked improvement over those who were not.
In England there exist laws which govern the size of the desks and chairs that teachers receive to insure that the chairs are comfortable and ergonomically sound. Unfortunately when it comes to students, the school desk and chairs have no such requirement. Therefore school desks and chairs are often chosen for their low cost, rather than for their level of comfort.
Over the years the ergonomics of school furniture has become more important, not less, as children spend longer periods of time at their desks and in front of computers in school.
Former English education secretary Charles Clarke reported for the British Educational Suppliers Association on what his research showed was the serious need to improve the education of Britain’s children. The report stated that, “Sitting for extended periods on chairs that are of inappropriate size and that lack ergonomic design and at classroom desks or tables whose height relative to the chair is incorrect and will be uncomfortable” will diminish students’ ability to learn. Furthermore, “The Back Pain Association is convinced that schools are a significant source of back problems.”
The report also stated that schools did not pay much attention to the ergonomic factor when choosing school furniture like classroom chairs. Rather, the motivating factor for picking student furniture was the “lowest unit price.”
Not only do children sit in their school chairs longer than they did in the past, but students are also not the same size they were in the 1960s, when much of today’s school furniture was designed. In the past 50 years children are actually taller, on average, than they were in the 60s.
The report urged ministers to have schools utilize adjustable furniture in the new schools that are now under construction under England’s school rebuilding program.
All children need a positive, calm environment. This is true for both the home and the school. As soon as a child feels overwhelmed, there is a strong chance they will feel like they cannot cope and this is when they potentially become a danger to themselves and the other students. It is thus the role of school administrators to ensure the physicality of the school is as comfortable as possible.
One way of doing this is by creating a pleasant, inviting, environment. Purchasing quality school furniture (school desks, school chairs, etc.); making the playground area inviting (maybe with little corners for groups to congregate when they want to chat privately); and ensuring that the lighting is appropriate for study.School Furniture, School Desks, School Chairs, Ergonomics,
Want to learn more about ergonomics? Check out these additional resources:
Ergonomics Made Easy
Department of Environmental Health and Safety
Blink- University of California at San Diego
School ergonomics is helpful for school interior designers. It is good to know how a student will most likely succeed when they are in a learning environment. Indeed, in the last few years, according to an article published in 2008 in the UK’s ‘The Guardian,’ “Schools are being encouraged to take ergonomics seriously, to improve pupils’ posture and their concentration.” This means that those who are involved in ergonomics at school should look at all types of classroom furniture. This includes: school chairs, school desks, any folding tables that are used, folding chairs, computer tables, classroom tables and classroom chairs.
Indeed, in the UK a campaign was launched on this very topic. Entitled ‘The Safe Seats of Learning,’ it sought to put an end to the “one-size-fits-all” approach to school furnishings. Research found that given that there are an increasing number of students using computers, it has been found that “inadequate workstations can have serious implications for pupils’ musculoskeletal health.” Thus, for those involved in the ergonomics of school design, it is important to bear this in mind.
School and church furniture serve many functions. Firstly, they provide students and congregants with places to sit and focus on school work and prayer while remaining comfortable and undistracted. However, furniture is evolving now to enhance the learning environment and ability to concentrate in other ways.
Chairs and desks come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Researchers have been studying the effects of different features on people’s learning abilities and productivity. Bright color and unique shapes promote creativity and confidence in a classroom and in church, as do certain desk designs, wall colors, podiums and classroom layouts.
Slouching? sit back in your chair, touch your shoulder blades to your chair's backrest. Get enough lumbar support, pull mouse towards you.
— Anderson Ergonomics (@AndersonErgo) February 26, 2010