bod The Importance of Doodling in Class

Is it Really Wrong for Students to Doodle in Class?

Posted by Debra Carmona on 30 November 2011 | Add a Comment


The Relevance of Doodling in Class

One of my art students told me how they got in trouble for doodling in math class which prompted me to do a little research on the topic of doodling in class.  I homeschooled my six children most of their lives and one of my sons always doodled all over his school papers. Today he is a great artist with a productive art career in front of him. For him it helped him to focus better. If had attended a typical public school, I am certain that he would have been diagnosed as ADD and they would have insisted that he be put on Ritiln. Drugs are not the answer for children with overly active minds.

Jacob Carmona's Stick Men DoodlesA hyperactive child is not abnormal needing medical treatment to calm him. The school system has a tendancy to quickly label these children as such because they disrupt the quiet orderly classroom all too often. They think they have a problem focusing and have short attention spans. The truth is this is an extra special child that is taking in so much all around him all at once that he is easily distracted by all the data he is absorbing.

Let me give you an example. Our family was driving on the thirty minute drive to church across the Mohave dessert. At one intersection my son exclaimed, "There is a family of owls right there!" We were not at the intersection but a few seconds, it was more like a rolling stop. I looked back and saw nothing as we passed the area. There are no trees in the Mohave dessert how could there be an owl family and how he could he have spotted it while we are moving. On the way back from church we slowed down past the area and sure enough he was right. A complete owl family had made their home in the culvit near the road. It was just a small owl and the babies were even smaller. It amazed me just how observant this child was. I mean he could hear a snake when a group of us were walking through the forest. I know he did because he stopped to capture it.

I will agree that their behavior can be disruptive at times. Here is another example when he was much older. I was teaching Earth Science to a group of eighth graders in a private Christian School. My overly observant son was also in that class. Sometime during the class he said he heard a bat flying above the drop ceiling. How is that possible to hear a bat flying unless you have very alert senses which he did. He climbed up on his desk and lifted one of the ceiling tiles and out flew the bat which sent the entire classroom into caos. While the girls were screaming and the guys thought it was cool, I hid myself in the closet until the bat was caught. It made for a very exciting classroom that day.

Jacob Carmona's DoodlesI ask why do we want to thwart children's natural curiosity and discovery process by subduing them with unessessary drugs? So, we can have peace and order? Why do we want to kill their human spirit? Maybe it is us who need to adabt to the different personalities of children. Let's face the realities that they are not all the same, nor handle things in the same way. They are not cookie cuts from the same mold and if we try to make them so we will only be successful in destroying their humanity, their creativity, their livelihoods.

For those children with active imaginations who seem to have trouble focusing on the teacher's lecture, a video presentation, a sermon, or whatever doodling may be of help. Doodling is such a natural and simple thing that takes very little effort that actualy allows the child to listen better and help them stay focused unlike day dreaming that can remove the child completely from the present so that they truly are tuned out. It has been proved that day dreaming takes up much more energy than doodling. There are high levels of arousal in the brain during daydreaming because the brain is always looking for things to do.

A study was done by the University of Plymouth England which proved that dooling actulay helps students improve memory and concentration. Two groups of people were asked to listen to a boring telephone conversation. Half the group were doodling the other not and the group that doodled remembered 29 percent more information than the doodlers. The result of this study was published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, indicate that doolers actually had better memory recall.

So, a word to teachers, if your students are doodling it does not mean they are not paying attention in every case. Consider the individual child if he is one with an active imagination, and seems to have trouble focusing. If so do not discourage him from doodling. He is doing his best to stay focused or else your lecture is boring and you may need to make it a bit more engaging. Here are some ways that you can encourage doodling with a productive end. When teaching, reading, or giving a lecture, give each of your students a peice of paper and instruct them to do one of the following:

Illustrate the story or a scene from the story that you are reading to them

Make a story board of the story

Draw a comic strip to tell the story

Draw out the math problems to help them understand the math concepts

Draw a flow chart of the events

Sketch the scientific processes

These productive illustrations will insure you the teacher that they are listening, engaged and how well they understood what you were trying to convey to them. It also makes a fun way to learn through doodling.


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