While teaching my fourth graders about solid figures during Math class the other day, I decided to show them how to draw a cube. You would have thought that I just found a cure for cancer.
Earlier in the year, one of my students was almost distraught because he couldn’t make a star. So, I had him come up to the board and baby-stepped a star for him. He was weirdly excited about this. I guess it’s the little things in life.
In my attempt at teaching my students how to make shapes and draw stars, however, I realized that I have created doodling monsters.
And it made me take a trip back to when I was their age.
I am not sure what age kids start doodling. If you have never doodled before in your whole life, then there is something wrong with you. Well, unless there is something wrong with those who doodle. Regardless, people doodle. What the hell does that word even mean? I had to go back to colonial days and name calling to find out.
When the colonists started getting pissed at the British for enacting ridiculous taxes on the colonists, such as the stamp and sugar acts, the beginning of grumbles and throwing tea off boats and the like, they started calling the British names.
“Hey, you stupid lobster……..Hey red-coat!” They wanted the British soldiers to go home. They didn’t want to pay taxes to read a newspaper or to put sugar in their newly imported tea. So, they decided that name calling that helped them cope with high taxes and soldiers walking around wearing white knee socks under their black go-go boots.
So, the British soldiers, in their bright red lobster red coat uniforms, called back. They called those silly colonists, “Yankee Doodles.” Now, I teach the Revolutionary War to my fourth graders, so I know all about this time period. I am a little too enthusiastic about teaching it. But, we all know that a “yankee” is a northerner or another name for a colonist. A “doodle” is a “fool” or “simpleton.” In the seventies, we would have used the synonym, “retard,” but it is politically incorrect to say that word now. Retard. I just really like that word.
Anyway, that is what a doodle means. So, what does that have to do with scribbling on the side of your paper? Is that a reference that all people who doodle are retarded? In the seventeenth century, it meant to be lazy or wasting time. But, according to Wikipedia, “In the movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Deeds mentions that “doodle” was a word made up to describe scribblings to help a person think.” Ahhhhh, this makes so much sense. So, people are not retarded. They are pausing.
So, what Mr. Deeds is telling us is that doodling is good. It is a pause mechanism so to speak. You are pausing while you are thinking about what you want to write about. I learn something new every day. I also learned that if you put toothpaste on a pimple, it will clear up. See, every day, new information.
The modern meaning emerged in the thirties, and meant to “dawdle.” Mr. Deeds, you are confusing me.
Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are some of our famous doodlers. They had been known to doodle during meetings. Reagan most likely doodled with one hand while popping jelly beans in his mouth with the other. Regardless, did they doodle because they were bored, lazy, or retarded? I am sure that the answer could be debated.
I don’t know if the kids doodle in third grade. I only have a few who have started doodling in fourth. It’s usually just a happy face or a “hi” to me on a paper they have to turn in to me. I have a feeling I will be seeing a few cubes in the next week or so, since I told my kids that’s what I doodled when I was in high school. Or was it junior high? I think it was junior high. And I remember exactly what I doodled.
Cubes, flowers, and my name for one. Notice that it isn’t necessarily artistic people who doodle. I can’t draw worth a lick. So, I thought that I would perform an experiment. I decided to doodle and then see if doodles can be interpreted, like dreams. Maybe it can tell me if I am happy or sad, lazy or determined. Smart or retarded.
Some “experts” seem to think that there is a reason that we draw and that like dreams, these symbols have meaning. Well, let’s look into that. I’m sure there is a doodle interpreter somewhere on google…….Yeppers. Found one.
“Doodles can certainly reveal something of a person’s mental state, but it should be noted that no graphologist or psychologist would use them as the sole indicator.” Uh oh. I bet my little cubes mean that I feel boxed in. And writing my name and intials mean I am arrogant. And my balloons mean I want to be a social climber. Am I close? The following information is from drawsketch.about.com.
“Why no, Vickie……Regular patterns from geometric shapes tend to indicate an organised and efficient mind. Triangles are a geometrically stable shape but also suggest direction and sense of purpose.”
So, the author of this study is telling me that I have an organized and efficient mind, eh? I am stable and I have a sense of purpose? Simply splendid.
So, do you doodle? Look at what some of your doodling may mean. Because, you may be mentally unstable and not even be aware of it.
1. Boxes-”3-D boxes indicate an ordered mind and love of routine. Often drawn by people with a good sense of spatial relationships.” Ok, now boxes were and still are the number one thing that I doodle. So, that obviously means that I have an ordered mind and I love routine. Ok, the routine thing is true. Some of my co-workers would argue about the ordered mind part.
2. Flowers- “Doodles of flowers indicate a gentle personality, a love of nature, sometimes childlike innocence or wistfulness. They represent the feminine, passive aspect of the universe.” Oh, yes, I have a gentle personality. Go on please.
3. Stars-”Stars are drawn by ambitious people and may suggest a desire for self-promotion. Little stars indicate optimism, while asymmetrical stars suggest excess energy.” Well, I used to be hyper when I was little. Had to take a little green pill every day before I went to school. That’s probably when I stopped drawing stars.
4. Mazes- Uh Oh..my mazes are not good. “Mazes can suggest a feeling of being lost with nowhere to turn, being unsure of which direction one ought to take, or may indicate mental disorganization.”
5. Hearts- Notice I have none. “generally, hearts are drawn by people in love, but may also indicate a romantic disposition.” Does this mean I should join eharmony?
6. Repetition of doodles- “Repetition is a common feature of doodles that suggests a methodical, patient approach to tasks. Repetition also increases the significance of a particular motif.” I’m thinking that it could mean that one just isn’t creative to think of other doodle marks.
7. Zig zags- “Some sources suggest that zig-zag lines indicate an experience of harsh reality and a need for comfort.” Wow, I’m just all over the place. Does that mean I am unstable?
8. Wavy lines- “Wavy lines are sometimes drawn to represent long hair, meaning a desire for beauty and femininity.” Would that mean if I desire it, I must not have it?
9. Arrows- I have always doodled arrows. “Arrows represent direction and ambition. Drawn aggressively, they represent a desire for action. Drawn in careful outline, they indicate a desire for progression or advancement, especially if pointing upwards.” Aw, look. My arrows are pointed up. I want to advance.
10. Eyes- I would draw eyes with glasses sometimes. I don’t know why. But, according to the doodle doctor, “They are sometimes regarded as showing a wish to be desirable.” So, I’m ugly. Is that what you are saying? Oh, this just keeps getting better.
I personally like to doodle. Will I like seeing doodles on the margins of my fourth graders’s papers? Sure, as long as they have their work done. I usually let them draw when they get done with their work anywho.
In the end, like dream interpretation, doodling symbols and shapes can be interpreted too. So, the next time you draw a balloon, know that that really means that you are emotional and long for love and harmony. If you draw straight lines for boxes and houses, you like to be in control. And finally, if you draw stars and things with triangles in them, you are looking to vent.
Or, then again, you could just be retarded.