for example, plant ecology that were more abstract and contained less irrelevant, pictorial information than those produced by individuals.


Spatial thinking is a powerful tool. It is fundamental to problem solving in a variety of contexts: in life spaces, physical spaces, and intellectual spaces. In each case, it can offer increasingly powerful understandings, moving from description through analysis to inference. In each case, it depends upon a level of spatial knowledge, skills in spatial ways of thinking and acting, and the development of spatial capabilities. All of the component skills can, to some significant degree, be learned and this points to the crucial need for education in spatial thinking.

In Chapter 3, the committee shows how spatial thinking plays a fundamental role in everyday life, the workplace, and science. In everyday life, the necessary skills are rarely learned in formal contexts: we learn by informal means and by doing. In the workplace and scientific contexts, there are increasing demands in terms of levels of spatial knowledge, spatial ways of thinking and acting, and spatial capabilities: those demands are often met by formal instruction. Chapter 3 shows how demands have changed over time (in, for example, astronomy), how they are met by learning within a domain of knowledge (in, for example, the geosciences), and how some people become particularly skilled at spatial thinking (in the cases of Marie Tharp and Walter Christaller). People use spatial thinking daily, to find the things they need at home and their ways in the world. Spatial tools that everyone possesses can be articulated and refined to turn learners into powerful scientific thinkers.

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