Why should we integrate Naturalistic Intelligence in teaching?

In addition to tapping students’ learning styles and interest, what kind of benefits does having Naturalistic Intelligence in teaching and learning bring?

1. It helps our students to be aware of the surroundings and of themselves
How many of us have been walking around the campus or our own neighborhood without noticing the beauty round us? Here is some pictures in our campus. But when showing them to the class, almost no one could recognize them. (Click the picture to check answers and find more info.)


     And almost no one knows that we have NYU Garden Shop. (Click the picture to more info.)


     We are too busy with our life and sometimes forget about the things around us.  It is the same with our students. Focusing on homework and exams everyday, they seem to have lost the joy of being with nature. And by getting in touch with nature, our students could also learn to better know themselves. When they sense, feel, touch, smell and see the nature, they are actually feeling themselves.

2. It is particularly meaningful to urban students
Students in suburban or rural areas usually are more aware of the nature as there are more recourse around them. National/State Parks, lakes and mountains, or even farms and animals are in their life. They grow in that environment. And even the school does not teach them about nature, they will learn by themselves or their families and communities will educate them about it. But students in urban areas are usually surrounded by buildings and vehicles. The resource around them is limited. And their families and communities are more concerned about work or economies rather than nature. Thus it is even more important that teachers bring the concepts of nature and ideas of getting close to nature into the classroom to the students.

3. Skills that Naturalistic Intelligence involves could also benefit students in other subject areas
Students with a strong naturalist intelligence:

  • Are intrinsically organized
  • Demonstrate an empathy with nature
  • Pick up on subtle differences in meaning
  • Like to make collections of materials
  • Enjoy sorting and organizing materials
  • Impose their own sense of order on new information
  • Respond to semantic mapping activities
  • Prefer charts, tables, diagrams and timelines

(Retrieved from http://surfaquarium.com/MI/profiles/naturalist.htm
You may also find more information at http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/mi/campbell.htm )
The skills and abilities mentioned above are very helpful to students in terms of skills and abilities. They could also be utilized when studying other subjects. For example, being organized is a very good learning habit and also very useful in sorting out concepts and knowledge. Charts, tables, diagrams and timelines could be used in Maths, Physics and even History. Students will benefit from these skills and abilities a lot once they understand how those could be used to help them. And it is the teachers’ job to encourage them to explore themselves and realize that.

In Foreign Language classrooms, it is particularly meaningful to integrate naturalistic intelligence. According to American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages standards, connection to additional knowledge should be provided in foreign language learning. Naturalistic topics therefore can be integrated in instructional process and curriculum as a connection. And our students are interested in these as well. Naturalistic intelligence does not only benefit the teachers’ teaching but also motivates our students.