Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Letting the Pencil Lead You

We created mandalas this evening. From the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, it represents wholeness and can be seen as a model of an organizational structure. Mandalas can be found in nature, in cultures from Native Americans to India, and can take many different forms.

As we were learning about mandalas and sketching some ideas, our leader in this activity mentioned that we would find that our "pencil would lead us" and what resulted would express our inner self. Strangely, I did find this to be true - at least my pencil leading me part!! (I'll post my mandala after it dries - perhaps you can help me decipher what it says about me!!)

It made me think about writing (of course) and the flow of ideas. In keeping a writer's notebook, I gather a collection of things that strike me: comments, phrases I hear and like, observations. Sometimes, I draw but mostly it is text. Each of these are seed ideas when I am stuck for the right words to say or the right topic to write about. Writer's notebooks are individual things and highly personal.

In taking these seed ideas, sometimes I just write. What ever comes into my head comes out on paper. It isn't always pretty or frankly, any good. But I can then go back to the pieces that sound "right" and refine them. The pencil leads me.

This is particularly true with my blog writing - I find that the words flow very easily in this medium and that other than some spelling and syntax fixes, I change very little. Because I use my blogs to tap my inner voice - it seems to be easier to write.

As I ponder my own writing, I think about what I need to do to help teachers become more comfortable with their own writing - whether on blogs or in model lessons. How do I encourage teachers to take the same risks we ask our kids to take? To write and submit writing for comment. To publish writing and await the reviews. To revise, edit, and revise again.

In researching mandalas after our session this evening, I learned that Tibetan Buddhists believe a mandal consists of five "excellencies:"

The teacher * The message * The audience * The site * The time

If you were to draw a mandala of your writing in light of these five excellencies - what would it look like?

Image from Creative Art Studio.

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