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 +

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Oxford University: Child Prodigies Out!

Oxford University was, for a long time, a refuge for child prodigies in need of an education. It was the only British University to accept child prodigies for admission before the age of 17. In 2005, the Children's Act was introduced requiring all who come in contact with children at Universities - and that included all the students, themselves - to have background checks. The unintended consequence (perhaps) of this, is that Oxford University now finds the demands of accepting a child prodigy unworkable. The intention was, in 2005, to cease admitting such prodigious children and have an age limit of seventeen, just like all the other Universities.

If you are a child prodigy in Britain, therefore, no-one will educate you beyond secondary school. What sort of situation is that? It is one that refuses to acknowledge the presence of special people among us who need a more demanding education, a more rapid education: a "radically accelerated education" as it is customarily called. No such education is available in Britain.

What does this do to prodigies? They are left to suffer in the classroom, the dullness of the demand and the waste of their talents. Is it any wonder that Britain is not the great nation it once was? Their best people are not being allowed to flower in the way they should.

So what is a child prodigy being raised in Britain to do? The short answer is to leave for a country where an early education is possible: America perhaps. America has many problems - I have never had much liking for its record on violence, for one - but it does have a certain open-ness about admitting children to University - and that is certainly good.

I live in Singapore. My son Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, is a scientific child prodigy. I enquired as to whether the local Universities, such as NUS, the National University of Singapore, accepted youngsters - and received a definite "no". Should the time come, therefore, for Ainan to be educated at an advanced level, before the usual time, we, too, will have to leave this country and go elsewhere: unless the situation changes before then.

What happens to the talent that is forced to leave a country because that country does not provide an education for them? Some will settle in the country of education and they will not return. This is clear. Therefore, countries which refuse to educate prodigies and the highly, exceptionally and profoundly gifted, in the way that they should be, face losing talent to competing nations which do. It is a simple equation: teach them, or lose them.

(If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy go to: )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:26 PM 


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