Doodle in the Margins

I doodle in the margins. In seventh grade algebra I got in trouble from Mrs. Lord for doing this. She was convinced that it was distracting me from learning algebra — a subject that did not come as naturally to me as others on my schedule, to be sure. I didn’t really understand it at the time, but I didn’t think she was right. Still, how could I argue? So, I quit doodling in her class and I understood even less of the algebra.

There are studies (I love making these un-attached references which are apparently tolerated in blogging while totally against the law in academic research) now that suggest (maybe even prove) that doodlers learn better while doodling.

My point is not to lambast Mrs. Lord who I believe was doing the best she could to teach algebra to students who were preoccupied with a bazillion things other than finding x.

My point is really about my need to doodle and the fact that doodling requires margins. Without margins, doodling is either abandoned or it starts to cover up content in its expression. Neither are good options.

So, in some ways, this isn’t even really about doodling even though it has totally been about it. It is about the need for margin in life and on paper. I’m trying to re-establish that in my own life and having a bit of a hard time at it.

And then about the actual doodle. For all the things I love about technology’s tools, for instance, satisfying doodling has alluded me in this new world of iPads and iPhones — even with apps for just that. I’ll keep looking. For now it’s not a problem since in most contexts there are still more printed agendas and hand outs than necessary and those can become doodle canvases in a pinch.


Okay, and to prove that I’m not making this up — this defense of doodling — I found this article from TIME that suggests that doodling helps you pay attention (which I knew from personal experience). And you can listen to or read this piece from Morning Edition on NPR about doodling if you’d like.

And then, if you really want some fun (and I’m totally serious here) follow this link and watch these videos. Vi Hart has posted on her website some delightful videos about doodling in math class and, watching them, I feel at least a little bit less (or maybe more, but in a good way) of a geek.

2 thoughts on “Doodle in the Margins

  1. Deb Klotz says:

    Emily just told me last week that, in Math class, she has discovered that she can listen so much better if she has a pencil in her hand and is playing with it…hmmm…same concept I guess! Whatever it takes to do better in Math class…

  2. Leanne Hardy says:

    I used to knit in my college classes and I swear that served the same function. If I wasn’t knitting (or in your case, doodling) the unoccupied part of my brain ran off in all sorts of directions. Knitting focused that run-around part and let me listen.

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