What brings you joy? It could be a favorite movie or song, family and friends, or travel. It could also be something you don’t even notice, like the paint color in your office, or art on the wall, or a round paperweight on your desk.
Studies have shown our surroundings can have a significant effect on our levels of joy. Learning environments are no different.
A Global Youth Survey showed that 61 percent of students are most concerned with improving their physical learning environment. And research suggests that the physical environment can significantly affect student achievement.
But there are some easy ways to start bringing joy into your schools. According to designer and writer Ingrid Fetell Lee, joy can be created through design by using color and shapes, and creating a feeling of abundance.
Here are three ways you can add joy into your school.
1. Add color
In a 2004 study on the relationship between color and emotion, researchers at the University of Georgia found that different colors affect mood in different ways.
Green is associated with relaxation and calmness, followed by happiness, comfort, peace, hope and excitement.
Yellow is generally said to be lively and energetic, eliciting positive emotions associated with the sun and summertime.
Gray is associated with negative emotions, including sadness, depression, boredom, confusion, tiredness, loneliness, anger and fear.
Don’t be scared of adding a little color to your hallways and classrooms. You could do that by repainting the walls or in smaller ways, using colorful furniture, window dressing or rugs.
Landscape image of an empty classroom.
Or get students involved by having them work together to paint a mural in the hallway.
“One colorful mural can transform a barren hallway or entrance into a vibrant and joyful sight,” educator Steven Wolk wrote in a 2008 edition of Educational Leadership.
2. Round it out
Shapes can also affect our mood. Neuroscientists have found that the parts of the brain responsible for anxiety light up when people see angular objects, but not when they see circular objects.
In her TED Talk, Lee describes how, after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, architects incorporated curves into the design of the building to create a safe-feeling environment for the children who returned to the school. The slightly curved entrance was purposefully made in order to give students a welcoming feel as they approached.
Redesigning your entire entryway may not be feasible now, but you can incorporate curves into your school with pictures of balloons and ice cream cones on the wall, or by adding circular stools and furniture.
And don’t forget about your landscaping. Circle-shaped bushes, anyone?
3. Take it outside
We already know great landscaping goes a long way in making a good first impression, but planting flowers and keeping your lawns pretty can also affect student and faculty emotions in a positive way.
Lawns enhance the quality of life and contribute to social harmony and community pride, according to The Lawn Institute.
And don’t be scared to take the classroom outside. According to The Guardian, “Outdoor learning can make for happier, healthier, well-rounded students – particularly for those with special educational needs.”
Given to Emily by ssc in May 2014
Let’s make school environments more fun and vibrant – and joyful.
Want to learn more about how SSC works to create joyful learning environments? Get in touch with us today.
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