Why All Students Need Visual-Spatial Methods
The first child I observed with unusual visual-spatial abilities was profoundly gifted (above 175 IQ). So I assumed that visual-spatial learners were profoundly gifted. Then, I discovered that children who fit the characteristics of giftedness, but did not test in the gifted range due to hidden learning disabilities, were usually visual-spatial learners. So I thought that visual-spatial learners were either profoundly gifted or twice exceptional (gifted with learning disabilities).
In 1991, I was asked to create a video on visual-spatial learners for the state of Missouri; the Director of Curriculum was convinced that the information would be applicable in all subject areas and at all grade levels, from Kindergarten through 12th grade. I was uncertain at the time, but he turned out to be right.
When we developed the Visual-Spatial Identifier, a process that began in 1992 and took the better part of a decade, we still thought that a small percentage of the population would be visual-spatial learners. The results of the second validation study of our Identifier, in 2001, astounded us. Approximately one-third of the 750 students we had assessed in two schools were strongly visual-spatial and another 30% were moderately visual-spatial. That represented the majority of the school population!
As I was completing Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner, published at the end of 2002, I realized more clearly what Dr. Jerre Levy had said: "Unless the right hemisphere is activated and engaged, attention is low and learning is poor." She was talking about every student in the classroom.
Throughout the book I hinted that the visual-spatial learner might soon have the edge in gaining employment. Tom West (1991), author of In the Mind's Eye, suggests that in the 21st century employees will require strong visual skills: "ready recognition of larger patterns, intuition, a sense of proportion, imaginative vision, the original and unexpected approach, and the apt connection between apparently unrelated things" (p. 88).
Reprinted with the permission of the Visual-Spatial Resource. © 2004-2007, Visual-Spatial Resource. All rights reserved.
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