I first wrote a blog post on the topic of Zentangle vs doodle in March 2011, and while it is not in my list of most popular posts, it has certainly sparked more response than most other posts. As a matter of fact, it has received more comments than any other post I've done since the inception of this blog, with today's total of 60 comments (yes, some of them are my responses to commenters, but there's still a lot.) New comments still frequently appear on that post, so I know it is still a topic of interest. I also wrote another post about doodling here, with the link to a great TED talk on doodling, too.
Searching the web, I came across a wiki that gave this definition: "A Zentangle is an abstract drawing created using repetitive patterns according to the trademarked Zentangle Method. True Zentangles are always created on 3.5 inch (8.9 cm) square tiles, and they are always done in black ink on white paper." It further went on to say that it should without orientation (no up or down). Already, I certainly know that MY doodles don't qualify. Mine often incorporate color, they absolutely do have a certain intended orientation, and they are not square. Further, they do not include the pencil shading that is a part of the Zentangle method.
official Zentangle® website, and I learned that "Zentangle's teaching materials are subject to copyright owned by Zentangle." According to the website, they have a patent pending on their teaching method. Also, I found this: "Many aspects of the Zentangle® Method, including our materials and teaching tools, as well as the material on this site, are covered by copyright which is owned by Zentangle, Inc. All rights reserved." (So it's a good thing I'm not calling my drawings Zentangles, I guess...)
If you are doing a project with your students that includes drawing something with a specific shape (whether a cat, a tree, an owl, a flower, a whale, an ice cream cone, or whatever...) and a major part of that lesson involves having your students divide up the internal space of the subject and fill each part with repeating patterns, rhythmic designs, or repetitive textural lines, WHY are you calling it a Zentangle? Isn't it really a lesson on repetition? On line? On implied texture? And so on? You can reference almost every Element and Principle in such a lesson, and that is much more valid to justify as part of your curriculum than calling it a Zentangle! I would think your administration, looking at your curriculum, would much prefer seeing that you are teaching long-established elements of art and principles of design. (Just my opinion, I know.) As a matter of fact, I could probably dig through my ancient School Arts magazines and other resources from my early days teaching elementary art, and find many articles on lessons using repetitive pattern and design that were published before Zentangle® was ever conceived!
I'd love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, please understand; this blog post is in no way criticizing the Zentangle process or the people who teach it. I simply don't think it's what we are actually doing when we are teaching art to kids!