Drawing the line between defacement and doodles

Storm Bermudez

On the plains of high school desks, you can see the roaming populations of graphite organisms and places, originating from the brains of young Patriots. Their existence is endangered not just because of their smear-prone nature, but because their creation is considered not only vandalism, but juvenile behavior.

The idea of desk art as vandalism is a tricky subject because it’s usually temporary and not intentionally harmful; however, it is not the doodler’s property and therefore disrespectful. Nonetheless, doodling itself does not deserve to be called juvenile.

Maybe I am in the minority as a desk art connoisseur, appreciating the decent pieces of art (and not crude depictions of health class knowledge) that I witness. At times, I’ve found the art of translating abstract thoughts into the limits of the English language to be very difficult. As a result, the human race as a whole has used art to share ideas—to assume that doodling is the sign of an empty and distracted brain is false.

My justification of “distracting behavior” is scientifically sound: studies conducted by Professor Jackie Andrade in 2009 found that among 40 participants who listened to a telephone message and were given a surprise memory test, the half that were instructed to draw shaded shapes recalled 29% more information than the group told to just listen. The theory behind it is that doodling aids cognitive performance by reducing daydreaming.

Doodling is not an escape for me—it is a bridge that connects my mind to my present reality. Speaking of this union, psychologists would agree that a person requires multiple sensory inputs for effective learning. Doodling activates auditory, kinesthetic, and linguistic modalities of learning and may even provide an emotional connection.

The art is clearly helpful, but how should we encourage the doodles without affecting the desks? We can come to a compromise by providing doodlers a separate canvas to create and process in. One of the more impressive and reasonable reactions that I’ve witnessed involved a serial doodler in middle school who, upon taking out his pencil and marking upon a newly-cleaned desk, was halted by a teacher. This teacher did not punish him, instead giving him a pocket sketchbook as an alternative canvas.

If I were to take all of the illustrious scribbles that I’ve made over my twelve-year scholarly career, I’d fill up the entirety of my ceiling. To me, it would represent all of the knowledge that my addled brain has gained. If we were to compile Liberty’s doodles, would we see a fluid illustration of the learning done here? Or would we see the blank whiteness of a canvas untouched and an aid unused?