Have you ever had the experience of someone in your class who was doodling during your presentation. Was your first reaction to get pissed off and think the person who is doodling doesn’t care, has checked out mentally or is being disrespectful.You might have even flashed back to your school days when the teacher would yell at those students and tell them to stop fidgeting, sit still and pay attention and you want to do the same.
I know that was my first reaction. It seemed to me this officer was being disrespectful by drawing and doodling openly in my class. I was pissed off and was going to show him the error of his ways by asking him specific questions about material I had covered. To my surprise he easily answered every question I asked him. It was not because he read ahead in the material or had been through the program previously. It was because he was paying attention.
I struggled with this for a while, but as I did more reading and research into the how people learn I realized that kinesthetic learners need to be doing something in order to pay attention. That something might be playing with his or her pen, doodling or drawing. This was driven home to me even more by a highly intelligent and very accomplished law enforcement trainer who was in my Excellence in Training Course. He was sitting in the front row (by choice) and drew pages of symbols during the theory portion of the course. I was fascinated by the symbols and thought it was some cryptic form of note taking. When I asked him what they meant he said, “The symbols don’t mean anything, but I have to be doing something in order to pay attention to what you are saying.” He pointed out that he had pages of symbols and pages of notes. He would be doodling and listening and when there was a point he needed to make notes on he would shift from the symbols pages to the notes pages.
These were valuable lessons for me. I needed to step back from my tendency to jump to negative conclusions about people who were doodling in my classes. They certainly may have checked out mentally or are bored, but in most cases they are doing exactly what they needed to do in order to learn. Teachers or trainers who tell those students to sit still, stop doodling and pay attention fail to grasp the fact they likely cannot do all three. They can sit still and stop doodling, but they are no longer paying attention.
Have you had similar experiences? What was your first reaction? How did you handle the doodler?