Great to see this coverage of SILC in US News and World Report, and I’m excited to hear Dr. Nora Newcombe speak at the NCWIT Summit Tuesday of this week. As I’ve mentioned previously, SILC hasn’t looked much at computer science yet, butthere are lots of reasons to think that spatial learning plays an important role in computing education. Spatial reasoning, which is the ability to mentally visualize and manipulate two- and three-dimensional objects, also is a great predictor of talent in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as STEM.
Yet, “these skills are not valued in our society or taught adequately in the educational system,” says Newcombe, who also is principal investigator for the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center. “People will readily say such things as ‘I hate math,’ or ‘I can’t find my way when I’m lost,’ and think it’s cute, whereas they would be embarrassed to say ‘I can’t read.’ “People have a theory about this skill, that it’s innate at birth and you can’t develop it, and that’s really not true,” she adds. “It’s probably true that some people are born with a better ability to take in spatial information, but that doesn’t mean if you aren’t born with it, you can’t change. The brain has a certain amount of plasticity.”