Bronne found some doodles of mine the other day. They were from when he took me with him to a teaching conference in Montana last year. I sat in some lectures and doodled on the resort’s complimentary stationary as I listened. I’ve totally forgotten I did them but was pretty excited that he had unearthed them.
When I was in school, I had two kinds of teachers: one disapproved of doodling in class, the other didn’t mind. The first type of teacher thinks that if you’re busy with your hands then you aren’t being attentive, especially during a lecture. They probably believe that the mind can only process one thing at a time, and, if you’re doodling, you’re not really digesting the lesson. The second type of teacher thinks that doodling isn’t a bad thing and being busy with your hands don’t make you any less attentive. In fact, it relaxes you and allows your brain to take in and digest information.
I was a doodler as a student and, when I became a teacher, didn’t stop my doodler-students from keeping their hands busy whenever I gave a lecture. Only a doodler would understand what another doodler’s mind goes through so I knew there was no harm in it.
Some people are able to multi-task more than others. When I was in Music Conducting class, we had to go through several exercises that isolated one hand’s action from the other. These exercises helped conductors with their coordination like maintaining the beat with one hand while giving cues for dynamics or instruments’ entrances with the other. Some people in my class did the exercises without difficulty, and, much to the amusement of the whole class, others did pretty badly. The explanation for this has something to do with the corpus callosum, that part of our brain that connects and facilitates the interaction between our right and left brain hemispheres. Some people have a wider corpus callosum. In fact, there was even a study before that suggested women had a wider corpus callosum which explains their ability to multi-task more than men. It also explained for what we often hear as “women’s intuition”.
Have a bit of fun and try these exercises:
1. Make a square with your right hand while, on paper, you draw a big circle with your left.
2. Do a 4-beat pattern with your right while the left does a 3-beat pattern.
3. Write a sentence with the right hand (or left, if left-handed) and do an air-circle with the left.