Students are back on campus in full force. Most teachers will agree that the previous two years have affected our young ones, and it’s up to schools and teachers to pick up the pieces.
I found my students to be restless and unable to sit still. They jiggled like bowlfuls of jelly, spoke out of turn, and some bordered on being disrespectful. I suppose it wasn’t their fault; they just haven’t had opportunities to socialize in the last few years. They haven’t been able to draw the line between formality and friendship. Many students could not understand how to wait for their turn and why they weren’t put first in a classroom like they were at home.
I wanted to do something that would teach them the joy of being still and understand the value of applying themselves quietly to a task. I spoke to my colleague Manisha, and she told me how she had introduced Mandala art in her classroom. So I decided to learn from my peers and give it a go!
My colleague Manisha had photocopied tons of Mandala art on A3 paper to make it easier for her students to colour. I took the easier route and purchased a few Mandala Colouring Books. The only ones I could find were for adults and were very intricate. However, I decided to give my students a chance to demonstrate their creativity.
I began by showing my students samples of Mandala art. I showed him the wonderful mix of colours that came together to create symmetrical patterns. I also made it clear that the process of completing the artwork was not a race; it was meant to be soothing. I told them to be creative; patterns were not required in their artwork as long as they felt led towards a particular colour or design. It had to exhibit their uniqueness and imagination.
I noticed the periods of silence growing longer as the students worked on their Mandala art. They were focused on choosing the right colours and thinking of their next move for their artwork. If students broke the silence, it was to ask for a sketch pen or advice from a peer on which shades to use next. Every time a child finished their academic work early, I allowed them to take down their artwork and work towards its completion. They were craving to complete the process quickly but learned that the process of finishing their artwork would take time and patience.
The finished product
Anyone who has completed a Mandala colouring page knows the satisfaction of time well spent. The beauty of the art speaks for itself. Your hands are exhausted, but your mind is fresh. My students felt a sense of achievement at having completed their work and were able to introspect on the skills that they developed along the way. To my surprise, they were ready to take on another page right after they finished the first one!
During the process, I was able to see a change in my students as they sat in one place for an extended period. I discovered talents in them I didn’t know they possessed! It was lovely to see students blossom and enjoy working on something creative that was all their own. Their pride was evident as they showed me their artwork every five minutes to ask if it was alright because they knew that I would praise their work! The positive reinforcement bolstered their confidence in themselves and pushed them to complete their artwork.
I did not allow them to take their artwork home. Instead, I saw that they were managing their time better by finishing their work quickly to have more time to colour at the end of the lesson. So it was a win-win for all!
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