The Young Entomologist


For a number of years I taught writing classes to homeschooling children. I loved teaching this class. I’ll never forget one particular young man (let’s call him Charlie) and his keen interest in insects. When I asked him to write a story, he would create insect characters. When I asked him to write a poem, it would be about an insect. When I asked him to write a report, he would choose an insect to study. Charlie was completely enthralled with insects.

When I asked Charlie what he wanted to do for his career, he quickly replied, “I want to be an entomologist!” I was convinced it was true.

One day, as his mother and I were talking, she said, “I’ve had it. I’m not going to let Charlie write about insects anymore! I’m just tired of it! It’s ‘insects this’ and ‘insects that’ . . . I don’t know how much longer I can take it. It has gone on for years.”

My heart broke . . . Charlie loved insects! It was the context of insects that carried Charlie’s enthusiasm for writing each assignment.

I pleaded with the mother not to forbid her son to write about insects. My rationale went like this:

  1. Charlie has an innate, God-given interest in insects.
  2. Interest drives motivation.
  3. Charlie’s interest in insects drives his motivation in the context of writing.
  4. Every student needs an “interest entry point” into each subject.
  5. Insects, for Charlie, was the entry point into learning about writing, as well as several other subjects.

The mother carefully listened to my rationale. We debated a bit, and then I said. “Look it at this way. Do you want to go with God’s design or against God’s design? God made Charlie this way. Does it make sense to go against his innate interests and fight about it every day, or go with how Charlie is designed and have learning flow around his interests? It’s up to you. You’re the parent. But, isn’t this why you are homeschooling?”

The mother looked at me carefully. “I think you’re right. I need to let Charlie be who he is.”

“Perhaps this is how God is calling you to love your son . . . to love him just the way he is, rather than trying to change his interests . . . and, who knows? Maybe one day he will be an entomologist!”

Prayerful Reflection:

  • Lord, how am I allowing learning to flow around my child’s interests?
  • Lord, how am I using my creativity and intellect to identify people, books, resources, and field trips that flow around my child’s interests?
  • Lord, how might I leverage my child’s interests as entry points and launching pads for learning?

Lord Jesus, help me keenly observe how my child is wired and flow with who he was designed to be. Amen.