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  • It is well established that spatial thinking is central to discovery, learning, and communication in mathematics, as indicated by convincing evidence that those with strong spatial skills also demonstrate advantages for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) performance. Yet, spatial thinking—the ability recall, generate, manipulate, and reason about spatial relations—is often absent from modern mathematics curricula. In this commentary, we outline evidence from our recent meta-analysis, demonstrating a causal role of spatial thinking on mathematics. We subsequently discuss the implications of educational policy decisions made across different countries, regarding the prioritization of spatial reasoning in the classroom. Given the increasing global demand for highly qualified STEM graduates, and evidence that spatial skills promote improvements in STEM outcomes, we argue that it is remiss to continue to ignore spatial skill development as a component of educational policy.

    • Katie A. Gilligan-Lee
    • Zachary C. K. Hawes
    • Kelly S. Mix
    Comment Open Access
  • Education is indispensable for the flourishing of people from all backgrounds and stages of life. However, given the accelerating demographic, environmental, economical, socio-political, and technological changes—and their associated risks and opportunities—there is increasing consensus that our current educational systems are falling short and that we need to repurpose education and rethink the organization of learning to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) “Futures of Education” initiative was formally launched at the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 to provide such a vision of education for the future. The International Scientific and Evidence-based Education (ISEE) Assessment synthesizes knowledge streams generated by different communities and stakeholders at all levels and scales and will thereby essentially contribute to re-envisioning this future of education. The overall aim of the ISEE Assessment is to pool the expertise from a broad range of knowledge holders and stakeholders to undertake a scientifically robust and evidence-based assessment in an open and inclusive manner of our current educational systems and its necessary reforms. In this commentary, we discuss the aims and goals of the ISEE Assessment. We describe how the ISEE Assessment will address key questions on the purpose of education and what, how, where and when we learn, and evaluate the alignment of today’s education and theory of learning with the current and forthcoming needs and challenges and to inform policymaking for future education.

    • Anantha Duraiappah
    • Nienke van Atteveldt
    • Edward Vickers
    Comment Open Access