The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, November 27, 2006

Is your child a prodigy?

How can you tell if your child is a prodigy? I ask this question, not because it is my question, but because it is the question of a reader: their search terms were: "How to tell if my child is a prodigy?"

Now, I thought that a strange question. Why is it strange? Because child prodigy is a very obvious phenomenon.

Have you ever looked directly into the sun? Most of us have, in our youthful foolishness. Did you not flinch, at once, and look away? Did you then ask yourself: "How can I tell if the sun is bright?" It is not a question that needs to be asked. That the sun is bright is so obvious that we would look askance at anyone who actually asked the question.

If a child is a prodigy, you would know it, if you had at all observed your child in thought.

A child prodigy is one who, before the age of eleven, possesses an adult degree of ability in an adult domain. It can be any domain, as long as it is something recognized by the adult world as an area of achievement. Most prodigies fall into well-defined rule based categories, such as maths, chess or the performance of music (note I said performance and not composition - the latter is infinitely rarer in children). The reason that rule-based categories are dominant is self-evident: it is a domain which may more readily be mastered without vast experience of the world, it is a more controllable domain. Prodigies outside of such domains are much rarer. Prodigies in art, writing or science are very rare indeed - because of the broader thinking skills and more varied demands of these areas.

If your child is a match for an adult in an adult domain - and is under eleven years old - and shocks the hell out of adult professionals, upon speaking, by their insight, wisdom, knowledge, and reasoning faculty, then they may well be a child prodigy.

Yet, child prodigy is rather like those jeweler's who pride themselves on having no price tags - just as for them, if you have to ask, you can't afford it, then so it is with prodigy - if you have to ask, then it is probable that the child is not a prodigy. Child prodigy is blisteringly self-evident. On meeting one, talking to one, witnessing one think, there can be no doubt that something unusual is at work. It would never occur to one witnessing a child prodigy to think that the child prodigy was anything but a child prodigy.

A child prodigy is like the sun: nothing is brighter, when you look directly at one.

(If you would like to read about my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, just turned seven, and his gifted brothers, please go to: I also write of child prodigy, child genius, savant, the creatively gifted, and gifted children in general.)


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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:37 PM 


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