In Defense of Doodling

Have you ever found yourself in trouble with a teacher because you were doodling in class? Have you doodled through a meeting? Or maybe every meeting?

Because last week I described a possible link between stress and perceived boredom, this seemed a good time for a tribute to the underestimated art of doodling. Being able to express ideas visually is essential to many individuals’ creativity. And doodling is a time-honored strategy for relieving both boredom and stress. But doodling can be more than that. Doodling may help you learn.

Andrade (2009) found that individuals assigned to doodle while listening to information performed better on a surprise memory test than those who did not doodle. Interestingly, the information presented was designed to be as boring as possible. One hypothesis is that doodling helped participants avoid daydreaming about something more interesting, and so absorb the material better.

It is depressing to think such things might have relevance in schools, but I suspect they do. No matter how hard we try, we can’t be scintillating to all students 100% of the time. A little bit of creative doodling might be just the thing to help those students learn, even when they aren’t terribly interested in the material.

In six minutes, Sunni Brown will convince you that your doodling is worthwhile—possibly even essential!

If you like the video, you might be interested in exploring her blog to see how these ideas play out in the business world. More importantly, think about how classrooms might operate if doodling was just another learning strategy, used whenever it was appropriate and helpful. We’d have classrooms full of colorful paper and markers and ideas. It sounds splendid to me. Have you tried it?

Andrade, J. (2009). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology. Published online in Wiley InterScience

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