Why do we coordinate colors with school subjects?


Photo courtesy of: Estelle Brousseau

Which class does each color belong to?

Estelle Brousseau, Staff Writer

The debate over what color best represents math, English, history, and science has been going on for quite some time among students. There is a reason why we attempt to coordinate colors with subjects; it’s all psychology. 

   An entire memory can be associated with a color. Specifically, there are a few reasons for warm and cool colors being paired with memories. 

   “Most of my science books were green so I kind of subconsciously associate it with that color,” freshman Jessie Mburo said. 

   Mburo recalls seeing the green book every time she was in her science class. It left an imprint in her brain causing her to subconsciously match green with science. 

   If something major has happened or happened repeatedly, and a certain color was involved, then it will leave a mark on your brain. Memory can affect what you think about color, even from when you were a toddler. 

   Even a saying may remind you of color. The phrase ‘I’m green with envy’ may make an impression in your brain that green is seen as a negative color. That would lead you to associate bad (for you) subjects with green. 

   “Math, I usually see it as a blue because it’s, like, bright and overwhelming,” Mburo said. 

   According to The Physiology and Psychology of Colour, “Blue stimulates the anterior hypothalamus, which contains the main regulating part of the parasympathetic nervous system.” The parasympathetic nervous system controls the body’s ability to relax. Therefore, blue helps the body relax. 

   Mburo felt that red didn’t fit any school subject, and yet freshman Leah Wood believes that red best fits English class, although she can’t quite explain why English is red. 

   “When I think of English, my brain thinks of red,” Wood said. 

   She enjoys the color red just as much as she enjoys English class. Also, the red ink teachers have traditionally used to mark up papers may have left a mark in her memory. It may also have to do with the fact that red is a warm color.

   “The sympathetic nervous system causes dilation of the blood vessels which increases blood flow, heart rate, and blood pressure,” Mayer and Bhikha, authors of The Physiology and Psychology of Colour said. This creates energy for a person when seeing this color or thinking very intensely about it. 

   As kids, we were taught to be neat and to have folders to represent subjects. What folder colors did you choose for each subject and why? It’s all a matter of the brain.