Drawing mixed with writing was one of our student’s most welcome means of interpersonal as well as intrapersonal communication in the Palomares Spiritual Empowerment Program (PSEP). In our observation students not only enjoyed the process but also noticed a much higher level of focus and concentration, cooperation vs competition, intergroup loving and caring support and encouragement, sense of joy and satisfaction, a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment, a meditative and relaxed mental state, generosity of spirit, greater level of patience and perseverance, elimination of the need for class management and students distraction, and finally cultivation of a sense of trust, rapport and friendship between the section instructors and students. For a most pleasant, least stressful, most effective, and efficient final assessment and exam, we utilized a group cooperative drawing process explained below.
The class including the section instructors was divided into small groups of 4-5 persons gathered around a small round table with poster paper and plenty of colored markers. Each student had 30 seconds to draw whatever they thought reminded them of what they had learned in the past few months from the beginning of the class. a timer would ring to mark the end of 30 seconds and the next person would take their turn. Everyone was asked to remain silent and naturally focused. We allowed the group takes as many rounds as they thought was necessary. The activity took less than 30 minutes from the beginning to the conclusion. Initially, the student would start a shape and could not finish it within 30 seconds, they quietly would stop and let the next person begin. Sometimes the next student would start in a different location on the poster board a new shape and sometimes the next student would attempt to finish what the previous person had left unfinished. The faces and expressions of the students were confirming evidence of not only a deep sense of focus and attention, but a loving appreciation of how their friends would join in support and completion of the group understanding of what was central to what they learned and appreciated from their learning. The process became a magical combination of individual assertion as well as a collective collaboration in harmony, appreciation of every person’s contribution, curiosity about what others would find meaningful, and a collective sense of accomplishment.
The observation of the similarity of the concepts and most memorable themes of our class and at the same time the unique nature of the drawing representation was a most confirming aspect of the success of the process. Both groups had the five-pointed star as one of their most effective tools for both talking and listening skills, both groups had a drawing representation of storytelling as one of their most effective processes of learning, critical thinking, empowerment, heart-engaged process learning, and also gaining not just knowledge, but wisdom, spiritual insight, and eloquent speech among a set of many other skills.
From these collective drawings, we learned that music and singing spiritually inspiring and uplifting songs as a group was appreciated by all. We could see that the skills of de-escalation, conflict resolution and loving consultation, and small group discussions were an important part of our learning together. We discovered that sharing food together, laughing and having fun together, creating a sense of friendship and unity among the students and all of us together was something everyone remembered. Learning how to identify our emotions and also have the discretion of what to do with them with the interest of the whole class in mind was another appreciated skill worthy to be remembered. In this style of administering the final exams not only we had a comprehensive assessment of what students had internalized and remembered we also made sure the process remains true to the heart of what we believed integrated education is all about. That the heart of education is the education of the heart. The final exam was indeed a heartfelt process of joyous exploration and creativity. We felt proud to assess a jam pact curriculum every day, each day 2 hours of class with many sets of concepts, skills, empowerment, social and emotional skills and self-empowerment tools, memorization of lofty concepts and quotations, ice breaker activities, personal transformation of relational transformation all in the span of 30 minutes and no trace of anxiety, competition, stress, fear of failure, and absence of meaning.
At the final stage of the process when each group was finished withdrawing what they remembered and appreciate about many months of everyday class, the students posted their drawing posters on the wall and then selected a representative, the shyest class member, to share what each drawing meant in words. The experience was most enjoyable, light-hearted, focused, joyous, unifying, uplifting, affirming, empowering, and rich with many meaningful concepts. The final stage of our creative, right, and left brain comprehensive final exam was a group picture witnessing the deep friendship that had developed and celebrated by all of us and the spiritual appreciation of an experience non of us will ever forget.
These are the student who at the beginning of the year class, would not smile, engage in conversation, ask questions, make comments, share ideas, or participate in any activity!! Just looking at the above picture proves to me the transformation that took effect on all of us in the process of Integrated Education called Palomares, Spiritual Empowerment Program. This I consider evidence-based success beyond expectations.
confirms the pedagogical wisdom of our process in using drawing as one of the ways of teaching, critical thinking, creative reflection, and assessing students’ comprehension at our Palomares Spiritual Empowerment Program (PSEP).
Mistaking drawing for art is embedded in our institutions, says Dowd, a professor of art and American culture at the Washington University in St. Louis. For centuries, schools have lumped drawing with painting and confined it in an “aesthetic cage,” he says.
Drawing helps us think better
It fosters close observation, analytical thinking, patience, and even humility.
But drawing offers simplicity and directness compared to other information gathering procedures.”
Drawing makes us better humans
There’s another fundamental reason for using drawing as a learning tool: It can bring out our better qualities as people. “If practiced in the service of inquiry and understanding, drawing does enforce modesty,” says Dowd. “You quickly discover how little you know.”
The observation that’s necessary for drawing is also enriching. “Drawing makes us slow down, be patient, pay attention,” he says. “Observation itself is respectful, above all else.”
This form of individual sense-making is a practice that’s ever more vital at a time when we’re inundated with falsehoods and bad faith, says Dowd: “When we look hard and listen carefully, how are we not led back to questions of justice, of what is right?”
Keyvan Geula is a licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist; LMFT. She received her Master of Science in Marriage, family, and Child Therapy from the University of La Verne, in La Verne, California. She employs the latest research in behavioral sciences, neuroscience, and the Baha’i principle of the oneness of all humanity to serve the well-being of her clients.
She offers her services as a clinician, lecturer, trainer, and supervisor to a global set of clients in person and online. In her clinical work, she incorporates the wisdom of the Baha’i Writings, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Mindfulness meditation, and consultation skills, as well as knowledge of the spiritual self.
She is an adjunct professor of Behavioral Sciences at Citrus Community College, faculty of continued education at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches psychology online to students at Baha’i Institute of Higher Education.
She is the Founder and Executive Director of Center for Global Integrated Education (CGIE), a non-profit Baha’i-inspired educational organization, which explores oneness of all humanity, and teaches the integrated mind-body-spirit approach in education.
She has served for two years as the producer and host of a two-hour weekly live radio show for the Persian community in Sothern, California focusing on the role of the psychology of spirituality in personal and social transformation, creativity, emotional and social intelligence, and a greater sense of harmony in a global society. She also has been the host and producer of TV series called Transforming Human Consciousness for eight years. She regularly writes and blogs on www.cgie.org/blog on topics related to integrated education, the oneness of humanity, the powers of the human spirit in the betterment of global society, elimination of all prejudice, equality of women and men, and education reform. Some of her shows are posted on her; Keyvan Geula YouTube Channel.
Mrs. Geula has served in several Baha’i institutions since her youth in Iran and USA.