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  • Chloe Strongin

The Misconceptions of Doodling

Doodling tends to be thought of as solely drawing and scribbling small designs. Some may even say there is nothing else to it. Historically, it has been seen as nothing but a distraction, but this is a misconception. After a lot of research, many are seeing that it can be beneficial and life-changing for students or for anyone.


The most common misconception and argument that you will hear about doodling is that it detracts from a student’s ability to concentrate. However, it has been proven that for certain students doodling can do the exact opposite. Similar to fidget toys, it depends on the student and what works best for him or her. If a student is artistic or likes to draw, then a pad and paper to doodle might work better than a fidget spinner. Most understand that fidget toys are capable of helping people focus and keep their minds working, so think about doodling in the same way.


“Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”

According to the New World Encyclopedia, “Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.” When a student is doodling in class and experiences the state of flow, enough of their brain will be entertained by the doodling that they can handle listening to their teacher.


However, such multitasking does not work every time. There will be instances when the doodling is so entertaining that the brain only conjures thoughts that reflect one’s drawings. Even if this can happen, doodling or fidgets can be the difference between someone remembering any of a lesson or not.


“Doodling can keep you from falling asleep, and/or spacing out when your brain has already turned off."

According to Harvard University’s health blog, “Doodling can keep you from falling asleep, and/or spacing out when your brain has already turned off. The permission to 'free-draw' keeps your brain attentive just a little while longer.” Doodling can also recruit additional senses and allow students to understand concepts faster. An example might involve doodling a diagram of DNA replication as opposed to reading about it. Drawing a diagram can be more beneficial than staring at a picture of it. Indeed, when certain students doodle in class to keep their brains flowing, it doesn't matter what the doodles are.


Kendra Cherry, a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist and educator, states “The goal of art therapy is to utilize the creative process to help people explore self-expression and, in doing so, find new ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills.” Doodling and scribbling are only two types of art therapy. Others include finger painting, photography, and sculpting.


“Stars, for instance, show up all the time in the drawings of emotionally deprived children."

What many don’t know is that different doodles can symbolize different things. According to journalist Stephen Juan, “Stars, for instance, show up all the time in the drawings of emotionally deprived children. Stars are what we wish upon. People who fill their doodles with stars may be longing for something they were deprived of, such as love or affection.”

Typically, the people who choose art therapy need assistance communicating or putting their emotions into words. Art therapy helps express feelings and helps calm someone down when frustrated or anxious.


After understanding the art and science behind doodling, many people still believe it is a distraction and an unhelpful tool for all. A case in point is that people say it can be distracting to others in the classroom due to the noises of the pencil or pen on the paper during a lesson. However, in school, there are all sorts of distractions, including a clicking pen or someone's leg tapping the floor.


Another reason why doodling is looked down upon is that while every other student is looking at the teacher, the one student doodling is not. Many teachers believe that because a student is not looking up to them, he or she is not paying attention. Teachers should learn to accept that doodling can actually help students.


Overall, doodling can solidify learning and have life-changing benefits. It can aid in keeping focus in class, retaining information, and revealing underlying emotions. 6 of 44 American Presidents doodled. Theodore Roosevelt doodled animals and children, while Ronald Reagan drew cowboys and football players, and John F. Kennedy doodled dominoes. So the next time you see someone doodling in class, think to yourself: maybe he or she will be the next president!

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