Dear Arabic teacher,
You’ve probably noticed that I spend an inordinate amount of time in your class doodling. This doodling occurs either during discussion, while we’re watching something, or while you’re talking. It does not occur while I am talking.
My doodles are usually a hodge podge of abstract shapes composed of curved lines, straight lines, circles, triangles, and dots that are inspired by natural matter. I also occasionally draw words spelled out in big pattern-filled block letters, or fields of teddy bear heads, with the odd rabbit, lion, fox, or raccoon head thrown in there. On a handful of occasions, I’ve resorted to drawing grotesque human heads as well as what might have been horse heads. These phenomena will be explained shortly.
Now that we’ve discussed the types and nature of the doodles, I would like to tell you more about what these mean in relation to your class and more specifically, my presence in said class. The mere fact I am doodling does not mean I am not paying attention. Indeed, drawing little designs on the side of my paper often helps me focus. That being said, this is probably not what’s happening in your class.
Depending on my hunger and current level of lack of sleep, my doodles might mean that I am barely listening to what’s going on and, if called on, will flail until the class rescues me out of embarrassment. On other days, I am completely aware of what is going on and just waiting the opportune moment to astonish the class with my insight. On yet other days, the discussion itself might be laughably ridiculous in either scope or tone and all I want to do is yell, “You clowns! Look at yourselves!” But instead I’ll boldly continue doodling.
A good rule of thumb is that the more complex the doodle, the less attention I am paying in your class. A simple teddy bear head may mean I just needed some cheering up and so quickly drew a friendly friend on my paper to lift my spirits. However, experimentation with different kinds of teddy bear faces, animal faces, or especially human faces means I’ve floating in another realm altogether and am not paying attention in the slightest.
So, is this a problem? Does my doodling constitute a threat to my progress as an Arabic student? Well, yes and no. The doodling itself is not the issue, but is only a symptom of a wider phenomenon that I would like to call “not caring.” Should the doodling be eradicated, it would likely be replaced with staring out of windows, and/or tearing up little pieces of paper. So what is the solution? As I stated earlier, I do not doodle when I’m talking, an action that requires my full attention. If there were some way for me to remain talking the entire class, or at least 75 percent of the class with the rest of the time being spent in preparation to speak, I think we would see a radical reduction in the frequency and quality of the doodles, something that would hopefully indicate a parallel increase in the rate of my Arabic learning.
I’m free on the weekends to talk about your teaching strategy centered on catering to my completely reasonable needs. Please get in touch with my secretary.