There has been a lot of talk about the power of doodling lately, as well as visual recording and graphic facilitation of meetings for those in the corporate world. The idea that visual learning is equally valid is an evolution of acceptance that this child of the 1970’s longed for early in life. It is pretty exciting use of one of our oldest technologies, pointing our sticks in the sand and making our mark, today’s iteration of cave paintings, such as those at Lascaux.
While some folks might question the purpose of doodling, I have a simple theory about the function of the doodle: it engages our bodies and minds to aid comprehension. Besides the evidence in this study that suggests doodling harnesses the brain away from daydreaming, so the doodler is enabled to stay more fully present to the primary task; I also believe that the act of putting pen or pencil to paper actually fires up connections between brain cells just as sleep aids in the role of memory. The sleep study suggests that a particular phase of sleep produces low waves in the brain during which time our brains replay newly learned tasks, so that memory of the learned task is enhanced. The act of drawing can produce a meditative state that allows for the assimilation of new information, and I am guessing that similar things are happening in the brain during drawing in order to incorporate newly learned materials. Additionally, this study suggests that those taking long hand notes in class will retain more information a week after a lecture than those using a laptop to take notes. And those using script to take notes will be able to reconstruct newly learned concepts better, not just memorize facts more efficiently. I believe at best that doodling, or drawing, actually connects synapses and promotes absorption of information. At worst, it leaves behind pretty entertaining journals, such as those of Samuel Beckett, author of Waiting for Godot, whose journals recently sold for nearly 1 million pounds. As Beckett expert John Pilling says “They (the doodles) are there, I think, to keep the pen moving, and to stimulate the mind into more movement.”
Next time your child or employee needs time to rejuvenate after brain fry, hand them a pencil and piece of paper and give them some time to incorporate their learning. See if grades improve and projects reach completion more effectively. Report back- I want to hear about it!