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Learning To Think Spatially
FIGURE 3.1 A set of instructions for installing a ceiling fan. Note the appeal to common sense and caution.
apartment. A trip to a supermarket to stock up on food for the refrigerator requires getting verbal driving directions from a neighbor, remembering and following them, and finding where things are located in a store that is organized in ways subtly different from the one that the family is used to. A written grocery list has to be mapped onto the floor plan of the supermarket in an efficient way. To amuse a younger child on the journey home, someone has to help her to put together pieces of a complex jigsaw puzzle. The journey home is complicated by the need to make a detour around construction that was not marked on the downloaded route map. It is also complicated by a flat tire: replacing it with the spare requires understanding the instructions on the side of the jack, removing the bolts and the wheel, and then tightening the bolts in the correct direction and sequence. Returning home, another son is asked to take over lawn mowing duties and has to find an efficient way to maneuver around flower beds and trees in the garden. The youngest child’s shoelace has come undone and there is yet another lesson in how to tie a shoelace properly, a double knot this time. The costume for the middle daughter’s school play has to be cut from fabric, fitted, and sewn by tomorrow’s dress rehearsal.
Everyday life is impregnated with tasks that, on the surface, are routine and trivial. Viewed as problems requiring solutions, these tasks are far from trivial in nature. All of the tasks involve the