The Art of the Doodle

  • There has been a stigma attached to doodling for far too long say supporters. The dictionary even defines doodling as “to waste (time) in aimless or foolish activity.”

    The tide of opinion, however, has been slowly turning in the doodle’s favor. Educators, business leaders, and the medical field are beginning to recognize emerging patterns of benefits related to the act of doodling. The art of impulsive, idle, spontaneous scribble drawing in the margins of what one is supposed to be working on may in fact be cloaking hidden genius.

    “…doodling is deep thinking in disguise – a simple, accessible, and dynamic tool for innovating and solving even the stickiest problems. Doodling has led to countless breakthroughs in science, technology, medicine, architecture, literature, and art.” — Sunni Brown’s The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently

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    Doodling is more than idle distraction

    Doodling is therapeutic and cathartic in nature. It simultaneously relaxes the mind and also opens it up to novel solutions for difficult problems that are easier to solve by exploring visual relationships. Doodling provides another avenue for student success by appealing to the visual/spatial learner.

    Kids doodling gets a bad rap, but it’s actually associated with better learning, creativity and performance. Here are five of doodling benefits:

    • Doodling helps you concentrate
    • Doodling makes you a more productive employee
    • Doodling can also keep you in the present moment
    • Doodling is an outlet for every day creativity
    • Doodling helps you generate ideas

    Big Benefits to being a doodler

    In an article for the Huffington Post Healthy Living, author Anna Almendrala lays out some surprising benefits to doodling.

    For example, Research published in 2009 found that participants who doodled while listening to a phone call were able to recall 29 percent more information afterward than those who simply took notes.

    Study author Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at Plymouth University in the U.K., and others have hypothesized that doodling and listening are uniquely suited to each other. Doodling engages the brain’s “executive resources” — processes that help us plan, multi-task and concentrate.

    Productivity also improves. Anaheim, California journalist Thy Anh Vo told HuffPost that doodling helps her keep accurate records of the meetings she reports on for her job. While she described doodling as “mindless,” she also said it helps her capture more details than exhaustive note taking does.

    According to the article, the practice is optimally suited for oral learning. Good doodling keeps people in a state of “pure listening.”

    Doodle in the classroom

    It has been shown that art is essential for kids. Art is form of communication and expression, which makes it an ideal outlet for young children to use their imagination and develop their creativity.

    As a teacher, you can be engaged in a number of activities with your students that provide opportunities for them to doodle at several levels of involvement, from making random marks to intentional expression. Educators can explore these types of student activities:

    • Doodling experiments to determine the benefits of doodling
    • Simulations of doodling that led to discoveries in mathematics
    • Art lessons and explorations related to doodling

    As a teacher it is an invitation for you to brainstorm a doodling activity of your own and carry it out with your students. It is an opportunity for you to tailor a doodling activity to your current curriculum.

    A doodle professional development course is most appropriate for teachers of third grade through adult learners. The content of the course lends itself easily to teachers of art curriculum but is used effectively by any teacher open to alternative ways of mastering complex ideas through visual brainstorming.

    Doodling is a dynamic way to represent science concepts in note-taking during lectures and personal study periods.