Being “Nature Smart” is a recognised intelligence

Howard Gardner (2006) who developed the theory of multiple intelligences, designated “naturalist” or “nature smart” as the eighth intelligence after further consideration, stating “the evidence for the existence of a naturalist intelligence is surprisingly persuasive” and “On the eight criteria for an intelligence, the naturalist intelligence scores well.”

This is the only addition ever made to the original list since its publication in 1983.

The naturalist intelligence includes abilities such as:

  • Excelling at identifying and distinguishing one species from another
  • Being keenly aware of how to distinguish the diversity of organisms in their ecological niche
  • Capacities which involve using multiple senses
  • Noticing subtle differences and details about objects

This has immediate application for teachers when considering curriculum planning and activities to meet all children’s needs. Use of natural materials, our senses, being outside and learning in, about, through and for the natural world is necessary to accommodate the nature-smart intelligence within each child. Furthermore such abilities are important in many jobs from science research to practical forestry and agricultural activities.

Gardner, H., (2006) Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice, 2nd edition, Basic Books USA ISBN 978-0465047680 p18-20

Learning and Teaching

This information is adapted from material created by the Centre for Confidence and Well-being


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