The For Spacious Skies program to educate children to "Look up" was established in the 1980's by Jack Bordon
Look to the SkyBY JACK BORDEN Published Orion Afield, v3, no.2, Spring 1999 Just past noon on a sparkling mid-June day almost two decades ago, big, pufty clouds scooted west to east across a deep-blue background. Working as a TV news reporter with microphone in hand, I stopped 20 people in a row put my band over their eyes, visor-style, and asked, "How would you describe the present appearance of the sky?" Not one of them gave an accurate description. A typical response: "It’s sunny" "Any clouds?" I asked. "There might be:' When I removed my hand each person was surprised to discover that they hadn't had the slightest idea what the sky looked like! We only had time to put six responses on the evening news, but this unusual feature brought many calls and letters. Most viewers said that the feature turned them on to the sky-from that day on they were "sky aware.” A number of them were teachers. Filled with excitement by their discovery of the freely available spectacle above, they turned their students on to the sky and were amazed at how it improved scholarship. I quickly came to see that increasing sky awareness could have a profound effect on education, so I left reporting and started For Spacious Skies, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inducing an ongoing conscious awareness of the sky. The sky is omnipresent. It’s wherever you are. It’s in the Bronx or the High Sierra. It’s available to everyone. Taking students outside and asking them to look at the sky is something any teacher can do. And it yields benefits. In I986, a Harvard study of sky-based learning proved that "sky-aware" students surpass "non-sky" students in several areas of learning, including music appreciation, literary skills, and visual arts skills. Miriam Kronish, the principal at Eliot Elementary School in Needham. Massachusetts, has been a For Spacious Skies proponent for years. As a first step toward sky-based learning, she suggests drawing the shades and asking Students to tell you what the sky looks like that day. Most students won't remember, so after a few minutes you take them outside and let them take a good look. Then you really begin to talk about it or ask them to write about it.
Of using the program with his fourth grade students, Steve Fortin said, “One of my key goals is to have the kids realize that school is just not four walls.. .that we can branch out and open up the classroom to nature and the environment around us:” His classes did weather study wrote sky poems, did sky-based math and art—they even baked sky cookies! As they become increasingly sky-aware, Steve’s students will grow to confirm Ralph Waldo Emerson’s assertion that the sky is the ultimate art gallery just above. They will, in effect, become benignly incarcerated in the outdoor equivalent of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Surrounded by an ever-changing work of art and attuned to its aesthetic qualities, would such students ever toss Dunkin' Donuts cups on the ground? Unlikely. They'd be more inclined to develop feelings of protectiveness about the environment. The English philosopher John Moffitt said, "To know a thing well we must look at it a long time:' So it is with the sky. Look at it often and long and you will grow to appreciate it more and more. Help a person. young or old, learn to visually ingest the world, to use their eves like wide-angle lenses, and they too, will discover the sky