This is my article published by edutopia.org - it looks fairly similar to an article I published on my blog but with some additional information.
I started drawing when I turned 36 or 37 when I began teaching at the Rudolf Steiner School - a Waldorf school that focuses on holistic education and focusing on interdisciplinary education. At that point I really believed it would not be possible for me to even draw a good stick figure.
I can genuinely say that learning the basics of drawing has made me a significantly better human being. My ability to absorb difficult concepts and retain them is significantly greater now that I incorporate drawing into my reading routine. Whenever I read a concept in chemistry or in some other complex subject I always draw something to help me retain information. My notebook looks more like a sketchbook and it has helped me immensely. There is no such thing as bad art when it comes to helping you learn a concept. No notes should be without some kind of sketch!
More important than retaining information is that drawing has forced me to look at things more deeply. I became a better artist to the extent that I became a better observer.
Observing is, fundamentally, about noticing patterns in what you see - big picture patterns at first and then honing down to details.
Look at the bird below - ten shapes make up this bird.
Once I got the basic pattern I could impose greater detail upon the bird. I simply drew greater details on top of the shapes I drew and erased the ovals and rectangles - they were place holders that helped me see the big picture until I could hone in on how they were all connected.
If I wanted to make a more beautiful picture it is now just a matter of how much time I am willing to spend looking at the thing I am drawing.
Everyone is capable of doing this. It is as fruitful and rewarding as learning to read or write or play music. It is a real shame that children are not taught to draw the way they are (hopefully) taught to read. It is so enriching.
Doodle in the margins. Look at things and seek out patterns. It will pay massive dividends! Enjoy!