If you’ve ever thought that doodling was just a scribble to pass the time, it might surprise you to learn that it actually has amazing cognitive benefits. In this week’s blog we talk to the founder of the Doodle Institute, Diane Bleck, about the importance of this art form.
The need to draw is said to be hardwired into the human brain. In fact it is argued that creating graphic images predates verbal language. From infancy to industry, doodling has practical and powerful applications. Mathematicians and scientists use doodles to explain complex theories and equations. Business people use doodles to map business plans and strategies. Across the globe, people from all walks of life are doodling to help them communicate – to give visual representation and meaning to their ideas and to help others.
An indication of just how important this art form is comes from a study published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, which found that doodling can improve people’s ability to remember information by nearly 30%.
Recognising its immense value as a tool in settings from schools to the boardroom, Diane Bleck has spent almost 20 years studying and teaching doodling. Last year she launched The Doodle Institute following the publication of her book, Discovery Doodles: The Complete Series which reached #1 on Amazon for Education & Professional Development the week it was released.
We talk to her about her love for doodles and how it can be applied anywhere from the office to the classroom, and share some amazing resources for free!
When did you first realise the power of doodling and what inspired you to help other people to use it as a tool?
I was doodling at work at Ernst & Young. My co-workers would come up to me and say, “I love your notes. You should draw them on the whiteboard for everyone to see”. So I started drawing on huge 100′ x 8′ whiteboards and filling it with the metaphors, models and maps people communicated during complex business conversations. I was traveling around the world for Ernst & Young – “doodling for dollars” and there was a pull at my heart. I realised that non-profits, startups and even school systems could find doodling immensely valuable. So my new mission became to unlock creativity at home, school or work.
How do you think teachers could benefit from doodling?
I believe doodling can be applied from infancy to industry. When you put pen to paper, you open your heart to ideas, insight and inspiration. I believe visual learning is a powerful tool for strategic thinking, brainstorming and business planning, for real life applications like math & science, or even in your personal life to help you imagine your hopes and dreams. Other applications also became apparent through my students. I saw them using doodling for health and healing. A tool to relief stress, to attract positive energy into their life.
Check out the amazing Sketchbook Basics video:
How do you think doodling might help children in a school setting?
I believe children learn through multiple learning styles. Look at Howard Gardner’s wonderful work. Doodling helps the visual learner who hears new ideas in pictures, and also physical or kinesthetic learners. Doodling can also be a way for children to burn some physical energy while listening. It requires you to “lean in and listen with a pen”. The child is actually actively engaging in the content, and processes what they hear. And then there are the benefits of recall. A learner will recall a map, model or metaphor they drew much more than a series of long handwritten notes. They actual process of finding the best way to represent an idea helps to find its meaning. Taking complex ideas down to the most basic level so they can find understanding. And once you have understanding, you can get to breakthrough point.
How you teach doodling in a school setting?
I go into Kindergarten classrooms and executive board rooms and I teach the same lesson. I have heard thousands of people say “I can’t draw!” I break down drawing and doodling into basic shapes. Once you realize you can master those easily then we add more shapes to your visual vocabulary, and then you can draw anything. I add some more concepts like letter, borders, patterns and frames and even the very intimidating “how to draw a face”. Once again I start with simple shapes to make a face and then we draw people.
Could you give us an example of how doodling has really helped one of your Doodle students?
My students are from around the world. I meet each of them with a 15 Skype welcome call. And I ask them “how they found the doodle institute and what they hope to learn” they each come from a unique background here is an example of who they are:
A Software Engineer hoping to make better wireframes, a facilitator wanting to make templates for her breakouts, a school teacher wanting to make better lessons for her kindergarten classroom, a lawyer that works with the legal systems and wants to map out a way to create loving communities for children, a teacher in Brazil who wants to be a part of conversations on how to improve the city and city planning, a facilitator working with NGOs who also wants to take the course with her grandchildren. I design my courses to unlock your ability to create “solutions you can see”.
What might the benefits be of doodling as a family?
I can tell you in my own family – making doodles can help us make visual routines to start and end our day, we also doodle our favorite animals while we wait for the pizza to arrive and it keeps us engaged and playing. We have feelings journals where we doodle how our day is. This was a very powerful tool with my girls when they were five so I could understand their emotions. I have some art teachers that use doodling for therapy for children who have been through trauma. I am not trained to do that work but I am so grateful that others are learning from the Doodle Institute and applying simple visual tools to their work.
It is a project that is bigger than me. It is my mission for impacting the world.
Do you have any advice for people that are interested in exploring doodling? How should they start?
Start drawing with anything you have. A pencil, paper, the back of a receipt. You don’t need fancy markers or tools. Just put pen to paper. Open your heart channel and start to doodle your dreams.
Note from the Creatubbles team: Creatubbles is the perfect place to share your doodles. Create your own doodle albums, or join 21 Doodle Days to get started. You can also find more doodle lessons here.
Next week we interview a Doodle Institute student to find out how she is practically applying doodling at home and in teaching!
Diane is President, Managing Director & Lead . Facilitator at Discovery Doodles, LLC and Chief Transformation Officer for Vizworld.com. She facilitates workshops with leaders across business, healthcare and education, inspiring people to discover, dream and doodle.
In her highly acclaimed facilitated workshops and events, participants receive hands-on training for creating a visual vocabulary for their company to transform workflows and deliver the ultimate business model or idea. Students around the world can also enjoy her popular online courses. More details here.
If you have kids that love to doodle, share their work on Creatubbles – it’s free!
Creatubbles™ is the safe global community for creators of all ages. Save, share, discover and interact with multimedia creativity portfoliosSign up to Creatubbles
Creatubbles ™ è la comunità sicura e globale per i creatori di tutte le età. E' lo spazio ideale, adatto a bambini, famiglie e insegnanti, per salvare, condividere, scoprire e interagire con portfolio creativi e multimediali.Crea il tuo profilo