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Opinion

Classroom walls crave bright colors

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October 30, 2008

I’m a good student. I go to class and take notes and study them for exams. I usually pay attention to what the instructor has to say (unless I don’t believe they have anything interesting to say). But I still feel that some classrooms are lacking an intellectual stimulus that universities should have. We need color on the blank walls.

Most classrooms are concrete with a sort of off-white paint on the walls. Some of the rooms have bulletin boards overflowing with vibrant posters of study abroad opportunities that you’ll never even consider. Some have rooms with windows so high on the walls you can only see the tops of trees from the desks.

I listen to the professor go on about the legislative process, direct democracy and law making policies. I absorb all the information and actually find the content to be interesting, but all I can ever think about in that KFA classroom is the fact that there is a large whiteboard attached to a white wall. All of the lights are on making the room incredibly over lit, which in itself is an energy hogging issue. In between thoughts of how much a professional legislature’s salary is I try to envision various colors that would suit the classroom.

It’s straining, the bright white. It is uncomfortable. It is anti-education. Did the person who designed classrooms even go to college? Did they know nothing of feng shui? A color, any color, would affect the mood of the students as well as the instructor. It would be lively and more participatory. What teacher wants their students to feel as if they are being lectured in a prison cell for 50 minutes? Students learn best in colorful settings.

There have been many movements and programs across the nation in attempt to bring color into the classroom. Deep tones, such as blues and greens, are exceptional for focus. Brighter tones, such as oranges and reds, are good for stimulation. In any room it is best to use a functional color scheme that considers education before aesthetics, which should come in very close behind education. One study showed that a monotonous color scheme actually increased absenteeism.

I envy the art majors. Their learning environment is being surrounded by creativity. There are some days I wished I were an art major so I could sit quietly in a room and be stimulated by the walls.

According to the University’s Mission, Vision and Values Statement, our school believes that “We create an environment of professional behavior.” If this is true then shouldn’t education come before the cheap paint? It is obviously more professional to aid in the education of students than to not. The statement also says that “Students learn in an environment of academic freedom.” If this is true then why does it feel like I am in an empty room? That is not academic freedom. This is basic eggshell with no room for critical and creative thinking, no flexibility in brainstorming.

Avoid visual monotony; energize students with an interesting learning environment. We could even have art majors create murals in some rooms. What looks like cheap labor could be college credit. Our education at UW-River Falls needs an upgrade. Let’s start in the classrooms.

Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.