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Dare to Doodle

Leeba Leichtman

Regardless of your age, stage, or skill level, you can indulge in the time-honored pastime of doodling

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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T

he classroom is quiet, save for the rise and fall of the teacher’s voice as she explains the ins and outs of a new concept in literature. Oh, and one more sound can be heard from the back of the room, if you listen carefully. It’s the gentle scritch-scratch of one dark-haired girl’s pencil as it covers the page in front of her with an assortment of lines, squiggles, dots, and shapes. 

No, these aren’t algebraic symbols or geometric shapes, and our subject isn’t doing her math homework in English class; these are good, old-fashioned doodles, and our friend is drawing them rather subconsciously as she listens to the teacher’s explanation. And as she doodles, she finds ideas for her upcoming essay popping easily into her head. 

Sound familiar to you? You’re not the only one. Regardless of your age, stage, or skill level, you can indulge in the time-honored pastime that has led some of history’s greatest thinkers to get the juices flowing and break out the ideas. That’s right, it doesn’t matter where you are; if you have a pen or pencil and a scrap of paper (or, by all means, a napkin!), pull ’em out and join us as we delve into the doodle!=

Long Live the Scribble! 

Long before most nations of the world had any alphabet (although of course, as People of the Book, Jews have been writing since time immemorial), they had doodles. Hieroglyphics, a system of writing that used pictures or symbols to represent sounds or ideas, were used by the Egyptians and by many other ancient civilizations. 

Cuneiform, the form of writing used on the oldest written records ever found, was doodle-like in its appearance, as well: Composed of a series of lines and dashes, some straight and some slanted, its purpose was to represent sounds from across the language spectrum. At that time, people in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) had no central government ruling over them. Instead, each small area became its own city-state: A city with its own king, army, laws… and language. With so many languages, it would be hard for people from different city-states to read what each other had written; to solve this problem, professional scribes (the only people who could write — and were paid for the service) wrote messages and recorded events in cuneiform. 

Of course, nobody in those days had paper (until the Chinese later invented it), so archaeologists have found most forms of these “doodle” inscriptions on rocks, cave walls, or square clay tablets. Hey, imagine going back in time — and getting paid to doodle! Or even better, color on your mother’s freshly washed cave walls! Who’s in?!

Riddle Me This: What did scribes in ancient Mesopotamia wear? Cuneiforms!

 

Doodles for your Noodle 

While you probably should refrain from overdoing it in class out of respect for your teacher, doodling actually seems to yield some pretty positive results for your brain. The Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology published a study in which doodlers demonstrated greater ability to remember unstimulating (code word for boring!) information — up to 29% more of it, in fact. Their non-doodling peers, the study said, ended up more likely to space out. Hmmm… Can’t imagine why! (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 686)

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