Saturday, April 14, 2012

spatial sense...

hands used to frame the scale and creation of objects
We use our hands to bridge between the concrete and the abstract, bringing abstract objects into scale as we visualize their creation. We use our hands to frame distant things, bringing them into more meaningful context. The simple gestures, at left and below will be well known to you. You have used them yourself as you transition from the imagination to reality, of from reality to imagination. The use of the hands helps to create a sense of scale and proportion. Otto Salomon in Educational Sloyd suggested that education always move from the concrete to the abstract. The hands are a much overlooked tool for making that transition seamless and personal. The gesture above is the one commonly used to "create" objects. The gesture below is commonly used to bring distant objects into scale or to frame landscapes in painting and photography. Both are useful for engaging the imagination.
Hands used to capture and scale distant things
But this simple relationship between the hands and the imagination is also crucial in math. There is a well-documented link between math skills and what is called spatial sense, described by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) as “an intuitive feel for one’s surroundings and objects in them.” According to the NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics,
"Geometry and spatial sense are fundamental components of mathematics education. They offer ways to interpret and reflect on our physical environment through abstraction. They support creative thought in all mathematics."
According to the Standards,
“spatial visualization includes building and manipulating mental representations of shapes, relationships, and transformations.”
Today we have an open house at the Clear Spring School. Hours 1-4. Stop by and you will see crafted wooden objects in each classroom used in the development of interest in learning, but also in the development of spatial sense.

On a related subject, Mother Earth News is celebrating International Homesteading Education Month. The magazine has long served in advocacy of direct hands on learning, enabling readers to get a grip on their own lives.

Make, fix and create...

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