Connect and Engage: Education for the Mind & Soul

Here's a resource to connect your students' learning with their local community, culture, and environment. Also learn how knowing yourself can translate to being an even better teacher.
Ednews Sep09 snapshot

Great Resources for Teaching

from the September 2009 YES! Education Connection Newsletter

Read the newsletter: Tools for Teaching Beyond the Classroom

These two resources offer rich ideas and tools to connect your students’ learning with their local communities, culture, and environment, and, also learn how knowing yourself can translate to being an even better teacher.

:: Art For the Sky
:: Center for Courage and Renewal

Art for the Sky

Art for the sky logo
Daniel Dancer Windmill

In September 2009, Art For the Sky worked with 4700 students from 21 schools in Uden, Holland--its biggest project yet--to create a living painting of the town's local windmill.

Image by Daniel Dancer

SEE WEBSITE: Art for the Sky

Art For the Sky was founded in 2000 by Daniel Dancer, based on the belief that "only from the sky can we truly understand our rightful fit in the world." Daniel's mission is to awaken what he calls, our "sky-sightedness" something he feels lies dormant within us all.

Art For the Sky was inspired by his encounter with the Nazec Lines of Peru while traveling in South America in the 80s.  He later worked with Kansas field artist Stan Herd who creates giant images on Earth by using a tractor as a paintbrush and crops for color. One day, Daniel decided to bring 450 students from an elementary school to "be" the beads in the headband of a 20-acre Native American head image.  From this awesome experience, Art For the Sky was born.

How It Works

Creating your Art For the Sky painting is essentially a math problem.  The Peruvians called this transformation, "enlarging from scale." From a thumbnail sketch, the image is projected to 150 ft X 150 ft. Wheelbarrows, buckets, shovels and rakes are used to prepare the field. Daniel directs participants from a crane, resulting in a unique painting and an unforgettable experience.

Curriculum and Teachings

Art For the Sky is an experience that meshes educational standards with imagination and human connection. On the parched desert plains of Peru, geomorphs of giant birds, whales, and gods that were created 3,000 years ago can still be seen. Art For the Sky is an application of teachings inspired by the ancients. Learn more about the Six Teachings here.

A number of art, social science, and math learning objectives are met through participation in Art For the Sky. Why were these geomorphs created in the desert? How do these images appear from the perspective of an eagle? Check out activities such as making "skysight" glasses to shift perspective, and links to explore more Sky Art.

Sky Gallery

This collection of photos captures awesome Art For the Sky living paintings created by schools and communities since 2000.


Center for Courage and Renewal

center for courage renewal staff
Center for Courage and Renewal

In our January newsletter, we shared Parker Palmer's Center for Courage Renewal, highlighting how happy teachers make happy students.  This September, Parker Palmer shares his thoughts with YES! executive editor, Sarah van Gelder on creating a stronger connection between our inner lives and our work.

Most public school teachers can probably relate to feeling overwhelmed and under-supported at times.  Teaching is unlike many other jobs in that it requires full intellectual, moral, and emotional attention.  And, it explains why close to fifty percent of new public school teachers leave the profession within five years.  It is too easy, Parker says, for teachers to find themselves leading a divided life—one where our personal morals and values don't line up with the institutions we work for.  Parker encourages you to allow that inner voice to speak up more often to foster better learning establishments for you and your students.  Read the full interview and visit the Center for Courage for Renewal website to read more from Parker Palmer.

Interview highlights

  • Cultivating your spiritual being or inner landscape does not have to be religious.  Rather, Parker explains, it is a basic human desire to connect with something larger than his or her own ego.  For teachers, this could be a desire to help children grow.
  • "When we bring our inner lives into our work, whatever we're working with ceases to be an object to be manipulated and becomes instead a partner to co-create with."
  • "Ask: How do I get my own ego out of the way enough to regard you as a collaborator rather than as a competitor?"

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