When I was a kid, I spent hours drawing pictures. Even when I wasn’t supposed to be drawing, I doodled. I sketched cartoons on the back of sermon handouts. I drew characters on the margins of the notes I took in class. For me, drawing was an escape and doodling was the biggest time-waster of an escape.
I never thought I would be using doodles for any practical purpose. Today, I’m going to sketch out cartoon characters for Write About — goofy things to make the platform fun and maybe a little whimsical. Last year, I illustrated Wendell the World’s Worst Wizard.
Over the last few years, I’ve gotten to make cartoons for other people’s keynotes and websites and book covers.
I still don’t feel like a “real” artist or cartoonist or anything like that. However, I find it interesting that the escape I chose as a child has become practical. It’s come in handy in teaching (turns out I can doodle on a whiteboard) or in leading professional development. I feel like the same has been true of writing or Twitter (where seemingly random opportunities popped up as a result). There are things that I chose as fun, quirky little escapes that turned into something practical by accident.
So, it has me thinking about the classroom.
The focus is often on “How will you use this in the real world?” (which is, by the way, nowhere near as fun to answer as “How would I use this in a galaxy far, far away?”) It’s practical, pragmatic, almost to the point of being utilitarian. Certain classes are called “fluff” classes. Certain jobs are pushed away for more “intervention” (a term that has always reminded me of drug addiction rather than phonemic awareness).
And yet . . .
Some of the most practical things in life have turned out to be those things that were time-wasters. They’re the things where I worked leisurely took risks, knowing that sometimes things would suck in the beginning. In other words, they were the things that required more slack than grit. It has me wondering if maybe we need to couple the notions of standards and expectations with words like “fun” and “diversion” and “geeking out.”
Maybe we need more time-wasters.
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