The Guardians of Doodle

The 24th September 2011 was an important day for doodlers but it may have passed you by. That is, unless you happened to be reading volume 378, issue 9797 of The Lancet, in which an article by G D Schott mentioned that,

Those in the “doodling” group performed better on the auditory monitoring task, and on a subsequent memory test.

G D Schott (thanks by the way, I doodle a lot) was referring to work by another doodle guardian, Jackie Andrade, whose original article puts a figure on this doodle-benefit,

The doodling group performed better ... and recalled 29% more information on a surprise memory test.

****Popular press bad science alert warning watch out think first message****

This is one piece of research on a very small group of humans which concluded that for some of them, in a staged experiment, recall might be better by 29%. On this basis, DON'T yet put doodling on your curriculum; DON'T buy everyone in school a doodle pad, doodle pens and DON'T by any means write an Ofsted-ready Doodle policy. Can you image what the margins of that one might look like?

Doodle Research

However, DO think about your own experience of doodling; DO consider its possible benefits for your pupils, how you might include it in lessons and DO plan a small piece of class-based research that might help you to explore the idea a bit more.

Or to get started, maybe you'd like to try this:

As a teacher or leader, it's likely you'll be going on a course before too long. Might even be one of mine. If you are, try out a bit of doodling during the input. Maybe you'd do this anyway but if not, have a go. Circles, squares, squiggles, blocks, loops, patterns, people - whatever flows out of your pen. Then, during first coffee, whip out your doodle and see if it triggers memories about the session content. If you've been allowed out in a pair (rarer these days) do this with your buddy. If not, try it with a stranger. Your opening line (and safeguard if you're called to task by the course leader for not paying attention) might be,

Andrade, from 2009 proposes that doodling might stabilise arousal at an optimal level -keeping people awake or reducing the high levels of autonomic arousal often associated with boredom - and also, more particularly, that doodling might aid concentration by reducing day dreaming. That's why I appeared not to be listening. Do you like my tessellation? Learn this by heart.

Do let me know how you get on. That doodle of mine at the top of this post is an interesting one. When I look back at it, I can recall the room I was in, who I sat with, what the presenter was like - even a few words from the PowerPoint - and a melancholic irony framed by my imagined words, 'here we go again.'

December 2018 - New resources for Visual teaching and learning at