There are many types of intelligent people in the world who have an affinity for understanding certain things and topics above how others may learn. Scientifically, there are a proposed nine types of intelligence that are naturalist (nature smart), musical (sound smart), logical-mathematical (number/reasoning smart), existential (life smart), interpersonal (people smart), bodily-kinesthetic (body smart), linguistic (word smart), intra-personal (self-smart), and spatial (picture smart).
Of these types of intelligence, I am always intrigued by the concept that there is a naturalist type of smart that implies the words “nature smart.” This type of intelligence explains how primitive intelligence helped early man relate to the living world of plants, animals, and environment around them. While modern explanations tend to focus on the fact that people have a learning affinity for types of shoes and brands and food, the true interpretation of it should be seen in lieu of identification of wild aspects of the world.
This type of intelligence can be seen in people who have an easier time identifying plants and animals because their minds are able to see the visual interpretation of something and apply that to gained knowledge such as applying the word Raspberry to a raspberry plant.
In some ways, many ways in fact, we exercise nature intelligence every day. When you go to the grocery store to get tomatoes for salsa or a lemon for lemonade you are recognizing natural aspects of the world that is grown, not made. That to me is true naturalist intelligence. However, much of society is unable to identify truly wild plants and animals as they grow up only knowing the environment around them as far as the grocery store aisles go.
In and of itself, a Naturalist is a person who, aside from the philosophical interpretation, has amassed a considerable amount of knowledge about the natural world. He or she can identify wild plants and animals and provide facts about them beyond what the general layman may know.
Years and years of fishing trips and watching water have given me a unique advantage in simply analyzing the water’s flow as it relates to life. The eddies and pools and riffles of a stream are all areas in which I see fish swim when I wander along the bank. I see fish rise and bugs swirl and oxygen being poured into the water from small white water falls. This sight I’ve gained, this ability to see water, is something I attribute to nature smart. Like a soaring eagle searching for aquatic prey, I learned to see the fish or where a fish will be from being a predator searching for its meal.
Because I went beyond a food aisle naturalist, nature smart is something I continue to work on and take immense pride in. As I write in fact, my backpack contains a wild plants of Colorado field guide because although I have an affinity to water, wood and stem is something I do not have an adequate amount of knowledge in. Thus, I am my own teacher for my own environmental education.
We can all become “nature smart” because nature is all around us.
So, where will you start?