Source: Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
A lot of people are familiar with the concepts of IQ and EQ (Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient) as measures of an individual’s overall intelligences. However, breaking down a person into these two capacities is very limiting as there are numerous facets of intelligence not considered.
In Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder he summarizes the theory of multiple intelligences proposed by a Harvard University professor of education named Howard Gardner. Gardner initially identified seven key intelligences: linguistic smart (words), logical-mathematical intelligence (numbers/reasoning), spatial intelligence (images), bodily-kinaesthetic smart (body/movement), musical intelligence (music/sound), interpersonal intelligence (people/others), and intrapersonal intelligence (self-awareness). [pg. 74]
In addition to these seven, Gardner later added an eighth intelligence: naturalist intelligence or “nature-smart”. Individuals like Charles Darwin and Rachel Carson would likely fall into this category. The explanation for the existence of this type of intelligence is the recognition and identification of elements found in nature. The evolutionary benefit of this would have been the easy recognition of danger (predators, dangerous terrain, weather) or edible plants. Modernization has largely removed individuals from nature but the identification methods used in naturalist intelligence are still used to identify brands, vehicles, or other aspects of our artificial environments. [pg.74]
Another professor, Leslie Owen Wilson, works at the University of Wisconsin came up with a list of attributes common amongst children exhibiting strong naturalist intelligence [pg.75]. Some of these will likely pertain to children with an interest in nature while some may not. However, chances are that they will at least relate to some degree:
- keen sensory skills.
- Use sensory skills to recognize and categorize elements of the natural world.
- Enjoys being outdoors engaging in activities related to the environment.
- Easily notice patterns in their environment.
- Interested in animals and plants.
- Notice details of the environment others often overlook.
- Interested in documenting or collecting nature-related information/specimens.
- Early interest in entertainment depicting nature.
- Heightened awareness and concern for the environment.
- Aptitude for picking up on names, categorizations, and information pertaining to nature and the environment.