Gazing Out the Window: Is It Harmful to Academics?

by Janet Newman ’27 on November 12, 2023


We tend to reproach the idea of looking out the window in academic settings. It is seen as disrespectful, a waste of time, and something that serves no purpose. Many equate it with distraction and futility. However, some scholars argue that this act of boredom is among one of the most mentally stimulating things that our brain can do. We are in an age where we are overwhelmed by an abundance of media. This leads individuals to no longer ponder what to do to fill their time, so instead of sitting with their boredom, they pull out their phones to check their texts or scroll through Pinterest, or they find some other medium to use. There is no denying how this self-driven mindset can be beneficial to one’s success, however, it is impossible to ignore how it can also pose a threat to one’s ability to focus. 

When picking a place to study, there are numerous factors to consider, depending on what affects one’s ability to focus. External influences like lighting and windows can vastly impact one’s capacity to learn. It is challenging to study in a room full of distractions, so during my time at Providence College, I have always gravitated toward the library. There is a strange comfort in the library’s quiet ambiance and rows of books that line the walls. However, I have found that most of the natural light in Phillips Memorial Library is directed towards offices and academic student services. This leaves students to study in the middle of the upper floor which, much like Ruane, is mainly dark. While the space still accommodates student needs it would be nice to include more study locations of natural light as it is proven to increase serotonin levels and raise productivity. Although the Slavin Atrium and Ryan Center for Business Studies are lined with windows, more spaces should encompass characteristics that will increase efficiency and better student focus.