Today my colleagues and I had the annual discussion about which classroom was going to become each class’ home for the next school year. It led to an interesting discussion as we tried to come to a decision about what factors should guide our decision. Our list of guiding thoughts was pretty short.
- Size of room in relation to number and size of students
- Current paint color of room
Many schools have set classrooms for each grade and every year the teacher and students move to the next classroom in the line. Our school does not have this in place as of yet, primarily because our classrooms are not uniform in size and our class sizes also vary somewhat. As a result, every year the classrooms assignments come into question and lots of money is spent on paint, as the rooms are painted the appropriate color for each grade level.
One of Rudolf Steiner’s indications was that the color of the classroom resonate with the developmental stage of the children who spend their days there. The rooms basically follow the rainbow from first through to eighth grade. First grade is painted a lovely rosy pink, which evolves to yellow in third grade, green in fourth grade, blue in fifth grade. The color gradually moves from blue towards lavender from sixth through eighth grade.
Some teachers have questioned this need to paint the room the indicated color, and some have chosen to leave their rooms the “wrong” color. Personally, I find the color of the room to be hugely important in creating the feeling for each year’s curriculum.
This year, for fifth grade, our walls were painted a lovely blue — like the Mediterranean Sea below the rocky cliffs of Greece.
This photo doesn’t quite capture the feeling that the color conveys, but throughout the year those walls have just spoken “Greece” to me.
Here is another example of a fifth grade classroom.
Having the environment reinforce the mood of the curriculum is so important to me that I’ll happily switch rooms every year.
Next year, I’m happy to report that those beautiful Mediterranean walls will remain that color as the fourth grade will move into our room and we’ll move on to a new room. This summer, I’ll be painting our new room a lovely blue — just barely tinged with purple — as I prepare for the more thinking atmosphere of sixth grade.
Though of course Steiner wrote about the ideal color for each grade, much has been written on the subject since his time.
Color in the Waldorf School — This article on the Waldorf Today website describes the evolution of color in the Waldorf school, emphasizing not only the different colors and their importance at different ages, but also colors that are appropriate for different tasks.
This beautifully lazured wall graces the entrance to a main hall at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School.
Here is an article about the lazure technique that is used on the walls.
In researching this article I realized how few pictures there are out there of Waldorf classrooms. Reminds me to take my camera into my room a bit more often!