A Program of Schools for Children

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Welcome to the Woodlands

What do Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall, John James Audubon, and Rachel Carson all have in common? According to Howard Gardner, the famed Harvard education researcher, they all had an especially high naturalist intelligence. According to Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, students with a high naturalist intelligence demonstrate many similar qualities. They are physically and emotionally adverse to pollution; have an intense interest in learning about nature; feel an intimate connection to animals; have a dramatic enthusiasm when they are in contact with nature; exhibit strong powers of observation in the natural world and have a high awareness of weather changes.

Gardner notes that “such persons with a high degree of naturalist intelligence are keenly aware of how to distinguish the diverse plants, animals, mountains, or cloud configurations in their ecological niche.”

Education practices have evolved in the twenty-three years since his seminal work on multiple intelligences. Gardner long argued that there were better—or at least alternative—ways to measure intelligence than standard IQ tests for students in both regular and special education. The intelligences Gardner identified include linguistic, logical/ mathematical, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily kinesthetic, existential, spatial, and naturalist. He has encouraged educators to teach various subjects in as many of these ways as possible so that we can awaken talents and kindle interests in our classrooms.

At Lesley Ellis we are a project-based school where we work to teach our students in a way that illuminates talents and addresses weaknesses.

Our school has recently added an outdoor classroom and expanded our garden so that we can further enhance our naturalist teaching methodology. Now, we also have the Woodlands indoors! Taking shape on the lower level near Preschool, you will find a woodsy pathway with a tree-lined reading nook, and even puffy clouds with a bright sun. Other elements are coming soon, including puppets from the natural world. We invite you to stop by the Preschool area of the lower level and take a peek both now and in the coming weeks as offerings in the Woodlands grow!