Don't frown if your kid takes things apart
A GIFT for spatial reasoning - the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator - may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than mathematics or verbal skills, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Psychological Science.
The study looked at the professional success of people who, as 13-year-olds, had taken the SAT, because they had been flagged as particularly gifted, as well as the Differential Aptitude Test, which measures spatial-relations skills.
Years later, the children who had scored exceptionally high on the SAT also tended to be high achievers - not surprisingly - measured in terms of the scholarly papers they had published and patents that they held.
But there was an even higher correlation with success among those who had also scored highest on the spatial-relations test, particularly in technology, engineering, maths and science.
The researchers, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, said their findings make a strong case for rewriting standardised tests, like the SAT and ACT (originally American College Testing), to focus more on spatial ability, help identify children who excel in this area and foster their talents.
"Evidence has been mounting over several decades that spatial ability gives us something that we don't capture with traditional measures used in educational selection," said Dr David Lubinski, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at Vanderbilt.
"We could be losing some modern-day (Thomas) Edisons and (Henry) Fords."