Doodles. We talked about and used doodles often during my two most recent classes at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute: Arts and Media Based Peacebuilding (578) and Research as Art and Transformation (524). Doodles were encouraged, a “gallery of doodles” was on display in our classroom and as a group we created a doodle culture. It became a method of sharing ideas and thoughts. Doodles created dialogue. Personally, doodles help me process, organize and create ideas. When doodling I become an “active listener.” Maybe I should call it a “visual” listener, as I doodle I am able to focus, hear and understand on a deeper level than when I REALLY, REALLY TRY to listen.
However, doodling while listening has a bad rap in many settings. Doodling is often considered the antithesis of listening. I recall a time when I was with a group of girls and we were creating circle guidelines, we decided that drawing in our notebooks would be considered distracting to others, as a result we banned the doodle. A friend expressed her doodle injustice to me just yesterday. The one and only time she was “sent to the hall” was when she was doodling while listening to a fellow classmate reporting in front of the class. She was told that doodling was disrespectful and inconsiderate to the person speaking.
The past month I created several doodles while I was in class at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. Doodling as note taking.
I have known for some years that I am not alone in the visual and kinesthetic learning, knowing and understanding department, however for many years prior I thought I was. I wondered why I struggled to recall anything from the teachers pontification of information that was spued at the speed of light or when reading the same paragraph 4 times and I still had no idea what it said. Okay! This time I am REALLY, REALLY going to listen. Yeah, right.
Shaming a person because they doodle perpetuates a cycle that oppresses creative thought and action. As a society we have created perimeters that guide our actions down a conveyer belt of conformity. When we start to move outside those perimeters there are pressures placed upon us that keep us wrapped tightly in a ‘nice’ little package. I will suggest that we unwrap the package, remove the perimeters and see what will happen. Maybe we could begin to expect the unexpected. Cultivate mystery. Create a new pathway. So I guess what I am advocating for here is Doodle Justice.
Doodles cultivate the creative mind. Let’s have a conversation about why doodling is an important component in learning, listening, life and peacebuilding.
Doodle for One. Doodle for All!