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Could “Green” Hospitals Encourage Naturalist Intelligence in Children?

An article, published in October 2016 in the Boston Globe, discusses Dr. Ann-Christine Duhaime’s campaign to increase greenery in Mass General’s Pediatric facilities.

Howard Gardner commented on this idea, saying:

“This article caught my eye. A pediatrician at major teaching hospital is attempting to instill nature into the hospitalization appearance. This will be done by setting up an atrium rich in flora. She hopes both to provide an appealing and calming milieu and to increase the young children’s sensitivity to their natural environment—and the threats posed by climate change.

As one who has posited the existence of a ‘naturalist intelligence’, I find this plan appealing. To be sure, we do not activate an intelligence simply by providing its components;  it’s important to have activities and exercises that develop discrimination, skills, and ultimately knowledge. But there is a long evolutionary history of human beings exploring nature so this immersion should not be difficult. In fact, it’s only in recent centuries that most human beings have moved away from rural areas, filled with plants and animals, to cities, where the experience of nature is mostly second hand.

One advantage of enhancing naturalist intelligence is that it does not simply operate with nature. Much of our consumer society as well as many of our artistic and scientific environments call for fine discrimination and careful classification. And so, the development of naturalist intelligence can have benefits for other spheres of life.”

A link to the article is available here via the Boston Globe.