Mandalas as Teaching Tools

I was teaching Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path today in my sixth grade classes.  As part of that, I showed a few mandalas designed to teach Buddhist doctrine, and we hit upon the idea that the class should make their own mandalas as part of their memorization process.

I think this is good.  We worked up a basic template, for the kids who worried about their artistic abilities, but we also left the assignment open-ended, for those who wanted to make their own images.

One student went farther, though: “So, Mr. Watt, a mandala is just a teaching tool… a whole book of information, with tiny pictures representing tiny details of a much larger story?”

I agreed with that.  It seemed reasonable.

“So could you make a whole mandala of everything we’re supposed to learn in sixth grade, and we could take THAT home instead of our textbook?”

Hmmm.  Maybe I need to get out my paints and canvases again.

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