Professor of Education Mary Kay Delaney focused on “Why Fidgeting and Doodling Matter: Reflecting on Movement in Learning and Teaching,” during Meredith’s 2015 Faculty Distinguished Lecture.
The topic has been an interest of Delaney’s since early in her career as an educator. The lecture covered the importance of movement by both the teacher and students, how doodling can be beneficial, and more. Delaney put the topic in action by moving around the auditorium as the lecture progressed, and encouraging the audience to doodle and fidget.
“We have inherited an education system that separates the mind and the body,” Delaney said, before showing evidence that areas of the brain related to motor activity are needed for concrete and abstract thinking.
Doodling can help improve recall, Delaney said. “People who doodle are able to recall information better later, because doodling engages the visual part of the brain as the auditory part of the brain is working.”
Delaney said educators can also learn from watching their students’ movements. “The student’s hands are talking to us, showing what the student knows and understands,” she said.
Keeping students in the classroom from moving keeps them from learning, according to Delaney.
“Movement has the power to release the imagination, which is necessary for everything we do,” she said. “One of the purposes of education should be to release the imagination.”
A member of the faculty since 2007, Delaney serves as head of Meredith’s Department of Education. Her areas of special interest include learning in sociocultural contexts, teacher
education, equity and education, special education, and qualitative research methods. Prior to joining Meredith’s faculty, she taught in public and private schools and has served as principal of a PK-8 parochial school.
The Faculty Distinguished Lecture was designed to represent a significant achievement of research by a faculty member. The first lecture was presented in 1964 by Professor of English Norma Rose. This event is sponsored by Meredith’s convocation committee.