Tuesday, January 3, 2012

OIK Tuesday: opposites

In the last decade the seven intelligences described by Howard Gardner in the 80's have been updated to include three "new" ones.  One of these new intelligences is undoubtedly the oldest:  "naturalist" intelligence, handy for actual survival throughout most of human history, and the only one of the three to be added to Gardner's original list.

In my class there are a few children who demonstrate marked naturalist intelligence, but none so strongly as Cale.  When we go out for "Outdoor Education," inevitably he's the one who spies a praying mantis on the school wall or digs up a clump of wormy grass roots to bring inside.  He knows a lot about animals, especially dinosaurs, and so as we tried to identify the creature illustrating a math worksheet, I looked to Cale for help. (The worksheet was handed to me by a colleague while we were all in the midst of The Gingerbread Man, so I just assumed that the plump, cheerful figure wearing an artist's beret and holding a paint bucket was a gingerbread man, but on closer inspection I found it to be a rather human-looking seal.)

At first I thought this creature was a gingerbread man with a raisin nose and a cute cap like the Gingerbread Baby, but then I noticed the hands.  Do you all see what kind of hands it has?

[confused silence]

To me those hands look more like flippers on a swimming animal.  What could it be?  It's hard to tell because its body is hiding behind the paint bucket....does anyone know a swimming animal with flippers like that?

[finally]  I know!  It's not a...it's a...it's...it's the opposite of a beaver!


slender and sleek
not round and fat

lightly downed
not thickly furred

tiny useless tail
no water-slapping paddle

sharp fish-shredders
no tree-felling chisels

nature-boy is right:
a seal is the opposite of a beaver

Heidi Mordhorst 2012


  1. Delightful! And hopefully Cale will continue to have teachers like you who nurture his perceptiveness and love of nature.

  2. Thanks for sharing about "naturalist" intelligence, Heidi. I hadn't heard of it. And I LOVE "the opposite of beaver." Hurray for Cale. :-)

  3. I'm so glad to hear they've added even more ways of being smart to the list. The naturalist describes my youngest to a "T."

  4. HOw fun. So besides the naturalist what is the other intelligence added to the eight?


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