The doodling occurred amid a lesson on competing nationalism and conflicts over land in the Middle East. The doodling did not occur in a private notebook. It occurred on a handout I would need to collect back to use with a class later in the day. When I asked the students to pass papers forward, I took particular interest in this artwork. I set it aside for future examination.
This doodling was not random or unrelated to our subject matter. Happily, it was not violent or disturbed. It seemed very thoughtful. The student had obviously been paying attention. He had obviously taken the information steps further than required. In fact, of all things, it incorporated the Balfour Declaration and the Jewish people. It was intensely creative. I was pretty amazed. What's more, the doodling seemed profound. He labeled an umbrella "Balfour Declaration." He may have implied that if this umbrella had truly been opened in the wake of WWI, it might have sheltered some of the Jewish people from future aggression. It is open to interpretation. I appreciate ambiguity, or the allowance for multiple interpretations. Life is riddled by it.
This student of history/supreme doodler could do a lot better in my class. Indeed, he is close to failing. He sometimes comes late. It is his first class of the day. He doesn't always have the homework. Occasionally, he volunteers insightful comments, but at other times he appears exhausted. I spoke with him the other day to mark the start of a new marking period. He clearly wasn't working to his potential. I let him know that I had identified his artwork. It illustrated, at least in my mind, an extraordinary type of "smarts." I had saved it. I hope this student will pick up his academic pace. And, I will encourage it. It is funny that something as simple as a doodle can show a classroom teacher so much more than any standardized test score. This doodle, in my mind, captured, in snapshot form, the brilliance of a creative mind at work.
I will use his artwork in class today as a motivation for my lesson on looking at imperialism in China through the eyes of cartoonists. I will allow time at the end of class for students to create their own cartoons based on some knowledge of our coursework. I will require them all to doodle!