Are you a doodler? If so, when do you doodle? Are your doodles just that, doodles? Do you throw them away? Do you save them for posterity? Well, according to research, doodles can be quite productive. Who would have thought? Now retrieve them from the trash! They are a gold mine of thought and productivity!
A recent segment on Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood (one of my do-not-miss television shows) focused on doodling. While the Oxford English Dictionary reduces the doodle to a “drawing made absentmindedly,” Sunni Brown finds this to be an understatement of sorts. She authored a manifesto, The Doodle Revolution, in which she contends that “info-doodles” can help in problem-solving and aid in memory retention by creating a visual language. She insists that doodling is more powerful than most people realize. She believes that doodling isn’t a simply mindless activity, but rather a way of engaging the mind in a way that helps us think.
Here’s Sunni Brown’s TED talk, “Doodlers, Unite!”:
In a study published in 2009 in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, researcher Jackie Andrade played a tedious voicemail to a group of volunteers. Some were asked to doodle, while others simply listened to the message. Results indicated that the doodlers remembered 29 percent more details than the non-doodling group.
Do you ever notice your students doodling? How does that make you feel? I know: it infuriates you, doesn’t it. You are convinced that they are not paying attention to you. After all, you are telling them some of the most profound information they will ever hear, and you can’t imagine why they aren’t paying attention! Ah, excuse me for a moment. Refer to the previous couple of paragraphs. Maybe they are paying attention. Yes, I know that never crossed your mind. Well to be honest, that scenario had never occurred to me either! After seeing the Sunday Morning episode, I started to reflect on times when I engaged in doodling. I also remembered sitting in faculty meetings where attendees (some were administrators) were engaged in writing or doodling. My first thought was, “How rude!” I am not so sure any more.
I can understand objecting to the use of cell phones or continual texting during class. However, I have revised my thinking on “doodling”. Since we all learn and retain information on different levels, maybe doodling is something that should be tolerated. So the next time you catch yourself about to explode when you see students doodling, stop and think that maybe you should let their river of creativity and understanding flow!
Enjoy this new-found form of learning!
(You might enjoy this post from A Retrospective Saunter, another interesting perspective on doodling.)