integrated learning
The mandala represents wholeness. It is used as a holistic structure and format in educational workshops to present factual information while demonstrating the interconnectedness of all things. The mandala pattern offers a central hub from which all educational subjects can be taught and is the perfect tool with which to explore all aspects of life, from material to non-material.

The Mandala Project supports an integrated approach to education and is a proponent of the Multiple Intelligences Theory developed by Howard Gardner. (See Project Zero). Building on proven studies showing that successful learning involves the integration of both art and academic content, the project has developed art workshops that can teach any subject, from geometry to history.

The value of Responsibility is a key lesson of every workshop. It is the natural conclusion drawn from discussions about the impact every person produces upon life, beginning with the immediate surrounding and extending to the most remote.

specific state learning requirements
are incorporated into a rich,
artistic, and fun format

The project is currently focusing on the development of workshops for elementary grade levels which incorporate state learning requirements.

Regardless of the workshop topic, the theme of connectedness is carried throughout the workshop. Every opportunity to draw attention to the interrelatedness of all things, from mathematical concepts to human development, is utilized.

The Mandala Project offers a variety of workshop topics from which to choose, as well as the option to have a workshop custom-tailored to teach a specific lesson. The Project encourages the participation of teachers in the workshops and welcomes their input and specific content requests for incorporation into the lesson plan.

putting the project into action
In January, 2000, the first Mandala Project workshops were piloted in Anacortes, WA, by Lori Bailey Cunningham. After the completion of two successful workshops in the Anacortes Middle School, the Anacortes School District Arts Cultural Education Coordinator contracted for an additional five workshops to be taught at various elementary schools in the district in the spring semester of 2000.

Since then, Bailey has facilitated many mandala projects in schools and organizations nationally and internationally, and has led workshops for teachers through Heritage Institute Online, which offers fully accredited courses for educators. For more information about Mandala Project Workshops, please contact our Project Director, Arlene West House.

building on the center
Workshops in schools are generally given in three-four day periods, and last from one to one and a half hours each. Each workshop varies in content and structure depending on the topic. The following is an overview of a typical workshop:

  • PART I
    A workshop begins with a general presentation of the mandala which includes examples from science/nature, history and art. The presentation utilizes several mediums, from slides to food demonstrations, which give visual examples of the mandala pattern.

    Students are invited to be active participants in all aspects of the presentations. As sliced fruits revealing the mandala pattern are passed around for observation (and consumption!), facilitators engage students in dialogues that connect the mandala pattern seen at the micro (atomic structure) level to the same structure observed at galactic levels. This segment of the workshop is the core from which all other topical studies develop.

    As a warm-up exercise, students create mini-mandalas. The facilitator uses these to create a collective mandala. The concept of unique "whole" parts coming together to create a larger whole is expressed in the creation of a collective mandala quilt.

    The main theme of the project is presented. Depending on the topic, a variety of mediums are used to teach the lesson. Following the presentation is a discussion to generate ideas for symbols to be used in the creation of personal mandalas. Worksheets are used either in-class or as homework to help students gather content for the creation of their mandalas.

    Following presentation of basic art concepts and techniques, students brainstorm ideas for creating mandalas. They then create their own.

    Students begin by centering themselves and focusing on their stated goal: to create a mandala that perfectly expresses the topic. Carefully selected music or special videos related to the mandala may be played in the background as the facilitator walks around the room helping students.

  • PART V
    Completed mandalas are submitted to The Mandala Project for inclusion in the project gallery. Students thereby experience the educational and creative lessons contained in the workshop itself, as well as becoming part of a larger experience involving the collective expressions of other people: whole parts becoming part of a larger whole.

sharing our experience
One of the project goals is to offer teachers and schools the ability to utilize mandala concepts by incorporating Mandala Project lesson plans into their own curriculum. To address this goal, The Mandala Project offers courses for continuing education credit through The Heritage Institute. See Workshops for more information.

We invite educators and parents to contact us with any questions or ideas they wish to share. We encourage you to consider developing your own workshops and are happy to consult with you regarding the development of a lesson plan suited to your needs.