A few years ago, I took the three-year-old daughter of our neighbours to the zoo for a few hours. It was a sunny autumn day, just a gentle breeze, and we were both looking forward to the afternoon. As soon as we’d gone through the gate, little Emily became enthralled by a scrawny sparrow hopping about on the path, and clapped her hands in delight.
‘No, Emily,’ I told her, ‘don’t worry about the sparrow. Look at the baby lions over there!’
As soon as I said it I knew I was wrong. Why shouldn’t Emily be just as interested in the sparrow as in the recently-born baby lions? Admittedly we hadn’t just paid a lot of money to look at sparrows, which we could have seen for free on the other side of the fence. And I was certainly keen to see the baby lions, and both Emily and I loved watching them tumble about at play a few minutes later. But in this case, Emily was my teacher – to be interested in whatever we came across, regardless of whether it was common or rare. Continue reading “The sparrow and the baby lions” »