Tuesday, December 20, 2005

If It Works, Why Not?

I've never liked the idea of painting the interior walls of schools with those dreadful "industrial" colors. But until now I'd never given it much thought from an educator's point of view until I read this story from New York City:
A project to spruce up dreary hallways at inner city schools is based on a simple idea: Bright walls make for brighter students.

Publicolor, a program in which students are permitted to paint over the industrial shades of their schools' interiors, is credited by school officials with lowering dropout rates, decreasing discipline problems and increasing attendance.

The program, now a decade old, has already redecorated 71 schools in blighted city neighborhoods.

"This is probably the best kept secret in New York City," said P.S. 69 principal Alan Cohen, whose Bronx school was painted earlier this year. "I love Publicolor. It has changed my school from the inside out."

Many students feel the same way.

On Thursday, 14-year-old Pedro Rodriguez was busy splashing oriole orange and apple green paints on the walls. The old colors, he said, "sometimes would make you feel down."

The dull colors on tile walls at P.S. 34 gave way to shimmering lime, teal blast, yellow flash, tangerine zing and blue wave. The bright shades contrasted with the tall grayish buildings in the surrounding neighborhood.

"I like doing work now and I actually like being inside the school building," Rodriguez said.

Ruth Lande Shuman, an industrial designer who created the program, said Publicolor has far surpassed her expectations and won over once skeptical city school officials.

"They didn't understand that schools are not meant to look like prisons," Shuman said. "I was, frankly, horrified by how hostile these schools looked and felt."
This is a good idea. A school building ought to be painted with inviting colors. Common sense would seem to indicate that schools which are painted in warm, "welcoming" colors would tend to exercise a positive subconscious effect on students. Every little bit helps. Besides, where on earth did folks get the notion that schools should be painted the same color as one's local wastewater treatment plant?
Submissions for The Carnival Of Education are due by 5:00 PM (Eastern) tonight. Get entry instructions here. See our latest posts, over there.