I’ve previously posted about studies that have shown student benefits to having plants in the classroom (see Do You Keep Plants In Your Classroom? — it received a number of good comments).

Since that time, I expanded the number of plants I have in my classroom, and students seem to like them. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see one or more of them (or their pots) “vandalized” a bit, but nothing at all has happened to them.

A new study has just been reported in a Scientific American article titled “Houseplants Make You Smarter:Recent research suggests that the mere presence of plants can boost your attention span.”

Here’s an excerpt:

These findings build on a body of research based on Attention Restoration Theory. According to this theory, the reason why you can stare at spreadsheets for only so long before wanting to toss your computer monitor through the window is that everyone has a limited capacity for this kind of work. This limited capacity system makes use of “directed attention” which is effortful, controlled voluntarily, and diminishes with use.

You can contrast this with the kind of attention that is engaged when you are out walking in a park. Your attention is drawn first to that leaf, then to another. The shadow of a bird streaking across the green grass pulls your eyes along… until a flash of color from flowers by the path grabs your focus. This second kind of attention, called undirected attention, is effortless, automatically oriented to interesting features of our surroundings, and, according to the theory, allows the directed attention system to rest and rejuvenate itself.

The study found that having houseplants around can result in the same type of rejuvenation.

If you didn’t get a chance to comment on my previous related post, please leave one here sharing your experience with plants in the classroom…