NLTN – Naturally Learning Through Nature – Yoyogi Koen, Tokyo, Japan

Ahhhh Nature.

Beautiful, calming, re-generating nature.  Trees.  Grass.  Wide open spaces.  You get the idea.  WATER, fountain-style, pond/lake style, or an ocean or two is a BONUS.

Nature – The FREE terrestrial classroom, all across the green and blue areas on our shared earth.  Stay tuned for OTHER free classrooms opening up……….

Background:  A sharp dude named Howard Gardner came up with his Theory of Multiple Intelligences back in 1983, in his book, “Frames of Mind”.

At that time,  7 intelligences were identified.

After a few long walks along the Charles River  and the Esplanade, (I speculate), he added NATURALIST to his original seven in 1999, with his book, “Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century”

Not yet an exhaustive list,  as “Existential” has made some lists, and even “Moralistic” is now being discussed.  I quote another educator, EJ Ward, on Moral Intelligence, with some paraphrasing,  “Television Soap Operas have no morals. Don’t be watching them them.”   A bumper sticker in New England reads, “Kill Your Television”, which projects a similar mind-set.  This is a different conversation.

Back to nature.

On selected Sundays, Bill Ward can be found in Yoyogi Park, near Harujuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo.

Bill will be happy to expand upon or clarify the content enclosed below, or you can simply have fun with him BUILDING THINGS.

Question:  Do you build things?  Please go ahead and make contact and SHOW what you’ve got.

The more the merrier.

Two versions of the Gard-man’s Multiple Intelligences, with some overlap and some editing.  Enjoy.

1) Logical-mathematical

This area has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning and numbers and critical thinking. This also has to do with having the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system. Logical reasoning is closely linked to fluid intelligence and to general intelligence (g factor).

2) Spatial

This area deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind’s eye. Spatial ability is one of the three factors beneath g in the hierarchical model of intelligence.

3) Linguistic

People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates. Verbal ability is one of the mostg-loaded abilities. This type of intelligence is associated with the Verbal IQ in WAIS-III.

4) Bodily-kinesthetic

Main article: Kinesthetic learning

The core elements of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are control of one’s bodily motions and the capacity to handle objects skillfully. Gardner elaborates to say that this also includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses.

People who have bodily-kinesthetic intelligence should learn better by involving muscular movement (e.g. getting up and moving around into the learning experience), and be generally good at physical activities such as sports, dance, acting, and making things.

Gardner believes that careers that suit those with this intelligence include: athletespilotsdancersmusicians,actorssurgeonsbuilderspolice officers, and soldiers. Although these careers can be duplicated through virtual simulation, they will not produce the actual physical learning that is needed in this intelligence.[7]

5) Musical

Further information: auditory learning

This area has to do with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. People with a high musical intelligence normally have good pitch and may even have absolute pitch, and are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. Since there is a strong auditory component to this intelligence, those who are strongest in it may learn best via lecture. They will sometimes use songs or rhythms to learn. They have sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre.

6) Interpersonal

This area has to do with interaction with others. In theory, individuals who have high interpersonal intelligence are characterized by their sensitivity to others’ moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations, and their ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group. According to Gardner in How Are Kids Smart: Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, “Inter- and Intra- personal intelligence is often misunderstood with being extroverted or liking other people…” Those with this intelligence communicate effectively and empathize easily with others, and may be either leaders or followers. They typically learn best by working with others and often enjoy discussion and debate.

Gardner believes that careers that suit those with this intelligence include salespoliticiansmanagers,teacherscounselors and social workers.

7) Intrapersonal

This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. This refers to having a deep understanding of the self; what your strengths/ weaknesses are, what makes you unique, being able to predict your own reactions/emotions.

8) Naturalistic

This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings. Examples include classifying natural forms such as animal and plant species and rocks and mountain types. This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.

9) Existential

Some proponents of multiple intelligence theory proposed spiritual or religious intelligence as a possible additional type. Gardner did not want to commit to a spiritual intelligence, but suggested that an “existential” intelligence may be a useful construct. The hypothesis of an existential intelligence has been further explored by educational researchers.


1. Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”) Designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations).  This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.  It is also speculated that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like.

2. Musical Intelligence (“Musical Smart”) Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone.  This intelligence enables us to recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalist, and sensitive listeners.  Interestingly, there is often an affective connection between music and the emotions; and mathematical and musical intelligences may share common thinking processes.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence are usually singing or drumming to themselves.  They are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss.

3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart) Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations. It enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns.  Logical intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives.  Young adults with lots of logical intelligence are interested in patterns, categories, and relationships.  They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.

4. Existential Intelligence Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, how can we better serve others, and how can we create a spring in our step, and MAINTAIN a spring in our step, by bring others WITH US on our journey, rather than climbing over folks.

5. Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart”) Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others.  It involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives.  Teachers, social workers, actors, and politicians all exhibit interpersonal intelligence.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence are leaders among their peers, are good at communicating, and seem to understand others’ feelings and motives.

6. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (“Body Smart”) Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills.  This intelligence also involves a sense of timing and the perfection of skills through mind–body union.  Athletes, dancers, surgeons, and craftspeople exhibit well-developed bodily kinesthetic intelligence.

7. Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart) Linguistic intelligence is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings.  Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words and to apply meta-linguistic skills to reflect on our use of language.  Linguistic intelligence is the most widely shared human competence and is evident in poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence enjoy writing, reading, telling stories or doing crossword puzzles.

8. Intra-personal Intelligence (Self Smart”) Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and to use such knowledge in planning and directioningone’s life.  Intra-personal intelligence involves not only an appreciation of the self, but also of the human condition.  It is evident in psychologist, spiritual leaders, and philosophers.  These young adults may be shy.  They are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated.

9. Spatial Intelligence (“Picture Smart”) Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in three dimensions.  Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination.  Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence may be fascinated with mazes or jigsaw puzzles, or spend free time drawing or daydreaming.


There are three main reasons for understanding multiple intelligences:

  1. teachers can extend their teaching repertoire to honour all the intelligences, and teach in ways that help students develop strength in all the intelligences
  2. the curriculum can be broadened to give value and status to all the intelligences (not just verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical)
  3. every student’s gifts can be validated by recognizing their unique pattern of intelligences (again, not just those gifted in literacy and numeracy)




Students demonstrate naturalist intelligence when they

  • are very comfortable outdoors
  • are aware of their natural surroundings
  • feel a definite sense of connection to the rest of nature
  • have an affinity for natural habitats such as forests, deserts, oceans/lakes or streams, wetlands
  • feel renewed by visiting these natural settings
  • discriminate different flora and fauna
  • recognize patterns and colours
  • are good at sorting and classifying
  • have keen observational skills and observe patiently
  • feel satisfaction in learning names of flowers, trees, rocks and minerals, dinosaurs, birds, volcanoes, cloud formations, etc.
  • enjoy exploring and touching outdoors, including “yucky things”
  • understand and can explain natural phenomena
  • show a sense for detail, noticing and delighting in the smallest of nature’s gifts
  • nurture living things, through gardening or taking care of pets or bringing home stray animals
  • set up bird feeders and other feeding stations for animals
  • choose to read books and watch programs about animals and ecosystems
  • seek music related to nature
  • make crafts and projects out of natural materials (using shells, driftwood, plant presses)
  • like using equipment to find out more about the natural environment (butterfly nets, water and soil quality testing kits)
  • readily follow cyclic patterns in nature such as tides, seasons, moon phases, and climate
  • enjoy collections of rocks, leaves, flowers, shells, feathers, etc.
  • name zoos, farms, wildlife parks, aquariums and pet stores as “special places” for them
  • enjoy recreational activities in the outdoors, such as hiking, rock climbing, cross country skiing, camping, sailing, scuba diving, etc.

(adapted from Discovering the Naturalist Intelligence: Science in the School Yard, with thanks to Jenna Glock, Susan Wertz and Maggie Meyer)




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