Counting flowers and pebbles as a way to learn numbers or singing "Here we go around the mulberry bush" while encircling an actual tree help children learn faster, and better said a new study.
A recently concluded three-year study by the Human Development Department at SNDT University has revealed that children in the pre-school to Class 3 age-group learnt faster, showed greater concentration and curiosity when teachers involved nature to explain concepts.
"Children have an in-born inclination towards and interest in the environment and it is crucial to foster this at an early age," said Reeta Sonawat, head of the human development department at SNDT University.
"Incorporating nature in the education system will help children develop their naturalistic intelligence and also ensure that they become sensitive and good citizens in the future."
Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory proposes that there are nine kinds of intelligences: spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, inter-personal, intra-personal, naturalistic, existential.
However, education has traditionally focused on the linguistic and mathematical intelligences over the others.
The researchers interviewed and observed 175 teachers first over a one-year period, and then over a two-year period after series of interventions through workshops on how to develop practices to stimulate children's naturalistic intelligence.
Of these, 90 per cent of the teachers said that their students learnt better, asked more questions and showed greater interest and concentration when they applied the new techniques.
Even history supports this testimony.
Newton's eureka moment burst upon him when he noticed the apple falling to the ground, and then ‘discovered' the principle of gravity.
"It was through his naturalistic intelligence that he approached the situation," said Sonawat.
"Some people understand best through nature."
Already some schools in the city such as MET's Rishikul Vidyalaya in Bandra and Tridha at Vile Parle use kitchen gardens to teach their students about fruits and vegetables.
The concept of a kitchen garden on a school campus called Are you reducing, reusing, recycling (RUR), where students learn everything from sowing seeds and watering plants, was developed by a group of parents.
"In a city where we barely have space, children learn the concept of farming and they learn it much better this way," said Monisha Narke, co-founder, RUR.