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Why doodling isn’t always a bad thing

I doodled my way through school in most of my lessons where a lot of listening was involved, making intricate patterns, sometimes paisley type, sometimes squirly, or names, sometimes, though rarely, angular.

Those were the times when I was really struggling to make sense of the lesson.

Some of my best lessons that I really enjoyed were also ones in which I did my most interesting doodles.

I managed to keep these hidden most of the time from my teachers, though my friends requisitioned some of them for decorating their own exercise books, or tried to copy them.

Those were the days of big classes where the teacher stood mainly at the front of the class.

If children appeared to be writing and listening, they did not attract the teacher’s attention.

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a BSME conference, losing the whole weekend’s freedom but gaining great insights – with my doodle paper handy.

The major theme was Inclusion – for those working with students with additional needs.

The constantly recurring drum beat was that Inclusion is for every child – not a Special Provision for those defined as Children of Determination, but something that is every child’s right.

Every Child’s right to their personal Learning Plan

And indeed that is what many schools and parents are working towards now. More and more, schools are using tests and assessments to ensure that every child has an individual learning profile, recognising personal best ways of learning: visual, or auditory or ‘hands-on’.

Barriers to learning are much easier to get rid of than ‘special needs’.

It made me review the ways we tackle the sorts of challenges and the ‘barriers’ to learning many of the children in our care face – often a one-size-fits-all approach!

A talk I heard on ADHD in which fidget toys were discussed got me thinking back to my own doodle-fidgets without which my learning would have been more limited, and my motivation greatly reduced.

Key point:

It’s not always that things like doodling are a bad idea. Perhaps we just need to redefine how we expect children to pay attention.

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