Paying more attention to spatial reasoning

Jonathan Wai and David Uttal explain in an American Enterprise Institute report one way in which generally accepted education strategies fail some students.

In schools today, tests and curricula are primarily suited to the types of students who excel in mathematics and verbal reasoning. The missing factor in testing and education policy is the measurement, selection, and talent development of students with strengths in spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning is linked to positive educational outcomes in STEM and is a strong predictor of success in the visual arts and vocational, manufacturing, and technical careers.

Students with this ability are not being identified or developed effectively. Consequently, society is missing out on innovation from a larger pool of spatially talented individuals who could be engineers and inventors if their abilities were more fully developed. Including spatial measures in tests, teaching spatial reasoning, educating teachers, and developing matching curriculum are policy solutions that could significantly expand opportunities for students with spatial reasoning strengths, while simultaneously improving innovation in society.

We shouldn’t expect Common Core to fix the problem.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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