Doodling is a spontaneous art and visible representation of our thinking. Encourage it
Every time he mucks around his notebooks while the class is on, he gets a whack on his back. And every time the class is on, he mucks around his notebooks.
Squiggles, wiggles, circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, milky way of dots, angles, whorls, swirls, spirals, wheels, steeples, spires and shifting shapes straight out of Dr. Suess. Shapeless nebulae, phantasmagoria, fantasia, bizarre, surreal, unreal and hyper real--- they are everywhere in his notebooks, on the tops of his class work notebooks and textbooks, on the margins, left and right, on the back pages, inside the corners of the stapled brown wrappers; On the wooden desk in front of him.
That’s Kiran Kumar’s mind, pictured in wiggles, scaped in doodles. Drawn on pages. That’s what it is: his thinking made visible. That’s how it is: uncanny, undecipherable, spooky and messy. It’s kind of personal, him and his mind on a canvass. “I love these, just going on drawing,” he says with a smile.
Which teacher has not whacked the tiny tot who scribbled wiggly squiggly lines on his notebook, or on the desks in front of him? Which manager has not stared down the guy who gives a finger to the awfully boring, haemorrhoid-forming power point presentation and draws something totally out of the whack on the back of a scrap of paper?
Doodlers --- we, the people, who revel thinking in images, see them grow into terrifyingly bizarre or achingly beautiful that it almost hurts to see it in the mind’s eye--- take heart. In fact, there is other choice.
In a new study, psychologist Jackie Andrade from University of Plymouth, England, told volunteers to listen to telephone message. Half of them were told to listen to the taped message about the party while doodling, that is, colouring already printed shapes. The other half of them ware told to just listen.
At the end of it, the two groups had surprise recall test: the doodlers had a better recall, mentioning more partygoers’ names and other pieces of information, than the non-doodlers. The study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology talks about the virtues of simple task like doodling has on structuring the auditory input visually and on memory.
She says of students doodling in classrooms: “Doodling can be a good thing. If there’s a choice between doodling and daydreaming, you’re better off if your students are doodling. Of course, it’s best if you aren’t boring them at all, but doodling isn’t necessarily a sign of your students being naughty—it’s a sign that it may be hard for them to concentrate without something visual.”
Doodling can help people see their understanding visually right there on a sheet of paper. Which is why they have more chance of connecting to and participating in the class or lecture through doodling.
For an outsider --- looking outside in--- the whole thing smacks of being inattentive, whereas, for a doodler, it’s a construction of meaning and understanding.
So, next time you find yourself or your kid doodling--- caricatures of teachers, grotesque forms of your boss, of birds and animals, irregular forms, lines and what not--- you are creating and shaping a reality.