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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 +

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The rewards of patience are sweet

I take note of how readers get to my internet site, and some of your journeys and subsequent behaviours are very revealing. However, one characteristic stands out among a subset of those who visit: a lack of patience. I will give you two examples.

One visitor searched using: "Baby development crawling", as a set of internet search terms. Anyone who has read all of my entries will know that there is much of interest on that topic to be found on these pages. This particular visitor arrived yesterday on my head page, which then spoke of The Secret of Success: Be Yourself; Oxford University: Child Prodigies Out and Gifted Links. This visitor who had, actually, reached a very relevant site for his or her search, never looked past the first page, did not look around the site and did not find what is there to be found: the answer to his search terms. I find that lack of resolve puzzling.

The second visitor, or should I say three of them, because three people have done this, used the terms: "Child prodigy 2006". You would think that my blog is very relevant to that - one of the most relevant on the internet, in fact. Yet, due to the vagaries of the search engines, these visitors landed on the art pages of Hafiz Osman, Ainan Celeste Cawley's uncle. None of the three looked beyond the first page, perhaps assuming that the search engines had turned up an irrelevant page. Not so. The engines were spot on. However, the starting page was not. If they had troubled themselves to read the starting page, however, they would have found a link to a guide to Scientific Child Prodigy - and been able to have their questions answered.

There is merit therefore in patience and resolve if an internet search engine directs you to a page: for even though search engines don't reason, they are programmed by those who do. The page is often more relevant than may at first seem to be the case. A good look around the internet site will usually prove to be of value.

All of these visitors would have found what they sought, had they looked around with skill and discipline. They didn't because it wasn't the first thing that met their eyes. I find myself surprised at this. It seems that many people miss what they are seeking, because they simply don't know when they have found it.

So, be more careful in your search. I have written here about 60 posts in around seven weeks, on a diverse range of subjects regarding child genius, child prodigy, gifted children and gifted adults, savants, the creative, and those with high IQs, as well as posting on my own gifted children, including the scientific child prodigy, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, my eldest son.

To read more on my gifted children, including Ainan Celeste Cawley, go to:
http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

Happy searching!

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:39 PM  0 comments

"All children are gifted"

"All children are gifted", you may hear your gifted child's teacher say, if you try to raise the issue of their gift. She may smile as she says this, as if to say: "How silly of you to think your child was special."

"All children are gifted", is a poisonous politically correct lie, that is often said to silence the mother or father of a gifted child. Why do teachers do this? They do so because they are told so by their superiors and by the educational establishment of many countries. They are told that all children are gifted, and that no child is special, therefore. I do not know why this is done: perhaps it is a misguided attempt to treat all kids equally, by stating that all kids are equal. They are not. In my life I have worked in many areas. One of those areas is teaching - and I can tell you without doubt, that very few children, of any age, from primary one to young adult, is at all "gifted". There is a huge variability in their native ability, their intelligence, originality and personality - but one thing is very clear, and that is that few of them are distinctive enough to be called gifted.

If your child is gifted, therefore, in any way, whether as moderately gifted, highly gifted, exceptionally gifted, profoundly gifted, a child genius or child prodigy, know this: they are special, and never let a politically correct educator try to convince you that their gift is an ordinary thing, an everyday occurrence because it is not. Every gifted child is unique, every gifted child is special - and every gifted child is most definitely not ordinary.

Happy parenting.

(If you would like to know about my gifted children, including Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy, then go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:24 PM  0 comments

Friday, November 03, 2006

The secret of success: be yourself.

Many people wonder how to achieve success. The answer is always simpler than they are willing to admit. Simply be yourself. By this I mean don't imitate others. Many people believe that by copying great people they can themselves become great. This is not true. They will become, at best, a derivative copy of the other person without the ability to generate new ideas. It is like those people who copy the fashion of a famous person: they look like them, walk like them, talk like them...but does this make them into someone as great as the famous person? No. It doesn't...it makes them into an imitator, someone with no voice of their own.

I believe that greatness is in our genes. It is there, or it isn't...just like every other characteristic a human bears through life: the seeds and limits are set in our genes.

If you feel that you must imitate others, ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?" I suggest you do so, because by imitating another person, you will never become like that other person in true form, you will only ever gather superficial characteristics about yourself. You will also lose any hope of originality. Those who copy don't have any self - or don't know who they are.

Imitation is the recourse of someone who has nothing to say - or who doesn't know how to speak for themselves. It adds nothing new to the world, but takes something away from it.

If you are yourself, there is a chance that you will do something interesting. If you imitate, there is no chance that you ever will.

What relevance does this have to parenting and gifted children? Well, a lot. Some highly competitive parents busy themselves with finding out what other parents are doing to raise their children - and copying what they are doing. Will this add uniqueness to their kids? No. It will help make their kids less individual, and less interesting. All these kids end up doing the same things.

Then there is the tendency to emulate the interests and abilities of other children. If they hear of a child who is musically gifted, they find out what the child is doing - say, playing the piano - and at once start their child on piano lessons. They find out that a gifed child is adept at maths...so they hire a maths tutor for their poor kid. They find out that another kid is playing golf expertly at four...so they at once take their gifted child to the golf course etc.

What is happening in all of these cases? The child is not being consulted. The individuality of the child is not being respected. Some children are born to be artists and will naturally draw at a young age. Others are born to be mathematicians and will count early and so on. Some are born to be scientists, like my son Ainan Celeste Cawley - and will naturally reveal an instinctive understanding of scientific reasoning at an early age. However, NO child can be made to be so. If your child is not a particular kind of child, attempting to force the interests/abilities of another type of child onto them will only ever do harm. The gifted child will become stressed, pressured, bored - or may comply out of a wish to do what the parents want - but have no joy in their heart. In the long term, this will produce very poor results and may irreparably harm the relationship with the child - and the mental development of that child.

I know of a Chinese pianist, whose mother had wanted to be a classical concert pianist. She didn't succeed in her ambition. So what did she do? She forced her son, as a child, to practise the piano, playing classical music, eight hours a day. The gifted child resented every moment of it and came to hate his mother, his childhood and classical music. He is now a young adult. Is he a concert pianist? No. Does he have a love of classical music? No. He hates classical music and will neither play it, nor listen to it. He can still play the piano, but when he plays the music is contemporary with none of the character of the classical music, he was forced to play. Does he have a good relationship with his mother? He rarely sees her. She lives in China. He lives in Singapore. So what happened here? The mother failed to create a concert pianist. Failed to instil a love of classical music. She destroyed her son's childhood. She created a powerful resentment in him for what she did to him. So, in effect, she lost her son, too. All this because she wanted her son to live her desired life. All this because the mother wanted her son to do what she thought a classical concert pianist should do, as a child. The mother knew of the practise regimes of concert pianists and forced her son to imitate them. Why did it fail? Because the wish to do that regime did not come from within him: it was not his deep desire to do so - it came from outside. It was forced upon him. By being forced upon him, there was no way it could ever succeed, for it was not supported by his own inner desires, abilities and interests.

Only the child can know what the child wants to become. Getting the child to imitate others will only create a variation on the life story above. If the child wants to read, the child will read. If the child wants to count, the child will count. If the child wants to sing, the child will sing. If the child wants to draw, the child will draw. If the child wants to do science, the child will do science. However, if the wish to do these things does not come from within the child, I believe from the evidence I have seen in the lives of others, and in my own studies, that only harm can come of it.


Be yourself, therefore, and let your child, gifted or not, be themselves: whatever that self maybe. The best result is the one that they want for themselves: not the one you want for them. Let them be that, then. That is true success.

(For posts on Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy and his gifted brothers, go to:
http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:09 PM  2 comments

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Gifted links: resources for genius, prodigy and the gifted

Gifted people everywhere need support. The parents of gifted children, usually gifted adults, need to know where to turn for advice on every issue that faces their gifted children. Raising a gifted child is not like raising an ordinary child: there are special needs, which often go unrecognized. I am trying to help the gifted community by creating understanding of the issues that face gifted children, and by describing my scientific child prodigy son and his gifted brothers, giving people an understanding of what such children can be like.

I shall begin here, a list of sites that write of gifted children, geniuses, prodigy and their needs. This list of gifted links will expand as and when I have time to judge the sites in question before adding them.

The first link I would like to introduce is the Prufrock Press, an organization dedicated to gifted children, providing advice and educational resources:

www.prufrock.com

The other link that should prove of use is: www.hoagiesgifted.org

Hoagies Gifted is a general site dedicated to all things gifted, including material for highly gifted, exceptionally gifted and profoundly gifted. They also have advice for the twice exceptional.

For those who would like to read of my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, and his gifted brothers, please go to:

http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:53 PM  4 comments

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:
http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:26 PM  1 comments

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Being a daddy: parenting highs.

Tonight I got home late after some business I had to attend to. When I returned, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, was still up, drawing a diagram of a new type of building, and modelling it in wood. Everyone else was in bed.

I went upstairs to my wife and found her still awake. "Guess what?" she prompted.

"What?"

"Tiarnan fell asleep clutching his hands together...and later he began to dream of you, for as he slept, he said: "Daddy, daddy, daddy!", in his sleep."

Tiarnan Hasyl Cawley is nine months old now...and it seems that, having missed me in the evening, he dreamt of me at night in compensation.

It is the little things that people do that show us what people think of us. In so dreaming, he told me more than he could say of what he feels. I felt - and feel - touched. Moments such as this are what sustains a Daddy: they are a nourishment those without children never know. Though at times it is demanding to be a father of three - I never feel other than happy to be so.

Have a good day.

(For further posts on Tiarnan and his gifted brothers, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy, and Fintan Nadym Cawley, a natural leader and brave boy, go to:
http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:39 AM  2 comments

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Prodigy Paradox: education is easy, when it is hard.

A child prodigy is not like other kids, in a way that may not be immediately apparent. A child prodigy may find extremely challenging academic work, easy, for it will engage the child's interest, and allow them to apply their intelligence to a greater degree than something which is not demanding.

On the other hand, for such a gifted child, the easy everyday work of school may actually be harder to accomplish. Why is this? Because school work is very easy. It demands no intelligence - from the point of view of the child prodigy - or even a profoundly gifted, exceptionally gifted or highly gifted child. Since school work is so easy, it provides no challenge or stimulation to the child but presents a very real difficulty: boredom. The prodigy child is simply bored by the lack of demand of school work set an age level equal to their own. The conceptual requirement is too limited to engage them: their brains are on idle. What does the prodigy child do when faced with typical school work? They switch off, completely and hide somewhere deep within themselves from this dullest of all worlds. They retreat from the utter boredom of the classroom, and find a place of more interesting reverie within themselves.

What would the teacher think of a child so disinterested in the school work that she finds it problematic to draw his attention? One thing she will not think is: "That child is bored, therefore he must be a prodigy/profoundly gifted/exceptionally gifted/highly gifted." Nope. She will think: "That child is not paying attention to ME. After all the hard work I put into these lessons: HEY YOU! WAKE UP!"

I see this tendency in my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, aged six. His school work, which is admittedly absolutely trivial, makes him sigh with the boredom of it all. Any distraction, however minor, is able to take his attention away from the boredom in front of him. However, if you present him with adult level scientific material, he will read it with interest, question you on it, present his own theories and interpretations and engage in experimentation. He only comes alive when there is the challenge of something new, interesting - and, this is very important HIGH LEVEL. The work of school is simply too simple to even wake him up.

If your son shines at things which are complex and demanding out of school, but expresses boredom at school, this could very well be the situation that is developing: the school is not challenging him and so he - or she - is switching off.

If your gifted child has to proceed through education at the same age as his peers - as is the case in Singapore, where we are - then the education system will NEVER meet the needs of your gifted child, if that child is showing the symptoms above of insufficient challenge.

(If you would like to read more about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, go to:
http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:51 PM  2 comments

Copyscape and copyright protection

The observant among you may have noticed the appearance of a purple box, with the word "Copyscape", beneath the usually relevant ads in the yellow box at the bottom of the page. What is this you may ask?

It is a copyright declaration and symbol of protection from copyright theft. What does copyscape do? Copyscape scans the internet for copies of a web page and submits a report to the owner of the site that tells him or her whether or not the site has been copied.

The next step is legal action. What are the fines? Up to $50,000 U.S dollar fines per infringement, which would mean per item - and there are a lot of items on a page/site/blog. Furthermore, legal costs would have to be borne which could easily run into six figures. That is the norm under international copyright laws. Why, then, do people steal? Because they forget that these days it is very easy to find out if you have done so: and so very easy to pursue it. Also, many people are quintessentially lazy and prefer to derivate rather than create.

This site is protected by Copyscape - so please respect the copyright of the owner, Valentine Cawley, bearer of the face found on this website - it is better for me and cheaper for you, if you do. Thanks.

(For a guided tour of this blog site and a discussion of Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy and his gifted brothers, go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:54 AM  0 comments

Monday, October 30, 2006

Internet google search and discrimination

Searching the internet, one finds all sorts of unusual, precious and bizarre information. The truth is truly out there - and a lot of other stuff that has no category at all. However, have you ever wondered who does all these internet searches and why they are searching the internet?

I was left to wonder, today, at one internet searcher. Someone from Korea found my page. "That's nice.", I thought, "The third person from Korea in as many days." Then I noted something odd, but not funny. What search term do you think they had used to find my site? Think about what it could be. They had used a google search and their search terms were: "Child". That's OK...perfectly reasonable considering the site content. Their next search term was "Prodigy". That, too, was fine. Spot on, in fact. But what do you think their last qualifying term was? Just think about it for a minute or two, then read on.

The final qualifying term was "Dangerous". That really gave me the creeps. Someone in Korea either considers prodigies dangerous - or wants to find one who is. Either view is a massive distortion of the truth. A prodigy cannot be dangerous. A child prodigy is a child. Just that. A child who thinks at the level of an adult in an adult domain - but still just a child. A prodigy is both wonderfully gifted - and a wonderful gift to Man. From a prodigy, properly raised, given opportunities to express themselves, many wonderful things can come. Some of the greatest geniuses in History began life as child prodigies. There is nothing dangerous about genius or prodigy...it is the highest expression and development of the human mind - and on such minds our civilization rests. Yet, someone, in Korea, thinks of prodigies in a very dark way - thinks of them in terms of danger. The real danger here, I think, is in not understanding that a prodigy is no more, and no less, than a human being with a heightened mental ability. Such a gift is not to be feared, but admired - and in no way relates to the idea of danger, at all. The level of discrimination inherent in the notion that a child is dangerous is shuddering. Such discrimination must always be opposed, wherever it is found.

Since I began this blog, that single search has given me more pause than anything else. Are child prodigies really so misunderstood that someone could search for one in that way? If so, I have even more reason to blog than I did before. Such misconceptions, misperceptions and misunderstandings must not be allowed to thrive. If they are, those misunderstandings, themselves, become dangerous - to prodigies, geniuses and the gifted everywhere. Erroneous views of who gifted people are and what they are like, must not be allowed to thrive - for therein lies much danger to gifted people everywhere - and, since civilization depends on the lifetime output of gifted people, to society itself. Whoever you are, in Korea - relax. If you meet a prodigy, say "Hi" but do not expect them to be dangerous - anymore than a typical six year old is. Nor, too, should you even think of a discriminating thought, but accept them as they are: a prodigy child.

(If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy, go to:
http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:24 PM  6 comments

Teaching the gifted: an educational perspective

Imagine you are a teacher. You have worked in education for five years, since you left University, clutching your Degree with pride. You teach Primary One - or First Grade as it is called in America. Over the years, you have come to understand what First Graders are like: you know how they think, what they can do and what they can't. You know how to teach to their level, you get into a habit of it. The words come easily. You know just what to write on the board and how slow to go, how often to repeat the material to make sure it sinks in, and so on. You are a first grade First Grade teacher.

Then there comes a kid who won't sit still. A kid who doesn't pay attention - but always knows the answer when you ask him. A kid who tries to attract the attention of his class mates to some unrelated activity: a drawing he has done, perhaps - life-like, yes, but why is he drawing in your maths class? You have often caught him reading books at the back of the classroom. Odd books. Books he seems to have stolen from his daddy or mummy: books of many words and no pictures, books of literature. Why is he reading them? Is he pretending to do so? You take the books off him and confiscate them and ask him to pay attention in class. He begins to say something about knowing it already...but you cut him off and ask, sarcastically, how he can know what you have not yet taught? He doesn't answer and you take that for a confession that he was lying. The boy looks sullen, but he often looks sullen so you don't notice. He's trouble, that kid, you think, as you go back to your desk, resolving to complain to his mother about him. That kid just doesn't know how to behave in class.

At the end of the year, the results come in. The annoying kid is first in all subjects. You say nothing to him, at first, as you hand back the exam papers. Finally, you ask him: "Are you small for your age? Are you older than you look?"

"No." he answers, "I am younger than the rest."

That gets you. You finally snap. "I will not have you being sarcastic with me! Stand in the corner and don't move. You are going to see the headmaster this evening!"

The boy looks shocked. "But I came first."

"Yeh, sure you did. Any ten year old can come first in a class of seven year olds.", you find yourself saying, your thought finally out.

"But I am not yet six," he declares, quietly.

You find your hand lashing out at him, and slapping him. The boy begins to cry. Then he rises and goes to stand in the corner and sobs, for the rest of the afternoon.

You feel gratified. You have finally got through to that kid. He has got to start behaving properly. The sobs make you cheerful and you get back to teaching the class: introducing an item, writing it on the board, repeating it, getting the kids to repeat it, asking questions about it and so on. The whole process is very slow but you know it is necessary, after all, except for Sobber in the corner, they are only seven.

It has been a good day, you think. That kid is finally under control.

Can this happen? Can a teacher so misunderstand a student that she can treat him like this? Yes, it not only can, it is very common. Clearly the little boy in the story above is gifted, at least exceptionally so, from the teacher's age assumption. What does this mean from the point of view of the teacher?

Let us look at the numbers. For argument's sake let us say that the teacher teaches several subjects, as they often do at Primary One. So she is taking five different classes of student for say three different subjects. That gives her a full week. Each class contains forty students, since it is a public/state school and has not enough teachers for small classes. That means she is teaching two hundred students per year. She has worked for five years and so has taught a thousand students. You would think that she was an experienced teacher, able to cope with all sorts of pupils and situations. Not so. You see our little boy is exceptionally gifted. His IQ is 160. Only one student in ten thousand is so gifted. She has taught one thousand students - but she has never met a one in ten thousand boy before. She has no understanding of him, no experience and no insight. He is utterly beyond her.

Her experience has prepared her to believe that she is experienced, that she knows the job well, that she understands kids. Yet, it is NO preparation for a kid who is exceptionally gifted, or profoundly gifted - and may not even have prepared her for a highly gifted kid at IQ145. The highly gifted kid is one in a thousand: he would be the brightest kid she had ever taught in her career - so, even at that level, she would not have anyone else to compare him to. Thus this problem of teachers having no experience of gifted children can cut in at the highly gifted level of one in a thousand. At the exceptionally gifted level of which we speak it is almost certain that she has not met another kid like him or her. At the profoundly gifted level of 180 or above - the teacher will not only have never met another kid like him - but she will never meet another person like him in many lifetimes.

At the highly gifted level, the chance is that he is the only such child she has met. At exceptionally gifted, it is ten to one against that she has met another such kid - and it is likely that that exceptionally gifted kid will be the ONLY such kid she will see in a fifty year career. At profoundly gifted it is one thousand to one that she has met another such kid. It will be one hundred to one that she will meet another in a fifty year career.

You can see the problem now. From the teacher's perspective gifted kids don't exist. She doesn't meet them. When she does she fails to understand that the kid is gifted: she doesn't know what to make of him or her. She may think that the age information is wrong - or that the kid is repeating the year. She may be in denial about the kid's abilities - any number of misperceptions and misconceptions are possible. The one thing that is not likely is that the teacher will handle the situation well.

If you are the parent of a gifted child, a genius or a prodigy, it might help you to understand your teacher's perspective, when communicating with him or her. Unless she has been specially trained to deal with gifted children, or has worked in a school where such children are more common, she may not know how to deal with the situation - and may, because of her experience, not even believe you about the abilities of your child. She may think "in all my years I have never seen a child like that...so such children do not exist: after all, I have taught a thousand kids."

A teacher's experience is rarely so wide as to have encountered an exceptionally gifted child - and almost never so wide as to have taught a profoundly gifted kid. As parents of such special children, we need to remember that, when we try to understand the educational situation our children find themselves in.

Ainan Celeste Cawley is my six year old scientific child prodigy son. Regarding his science ability, his school's Vice Principal said: "We have never had a child like this before...though I heard about a fifteen year old who was accepted from Singapore into an American University to do maths..."

His answer was most revealing. He acknowledged that the presence of such a gifted child as Ainan had never been noted before - but then went on to compare his precociousness with that of a fifteen year old. There is no comparison between a six year old who thinks at an adult level and a fifteen year old who does so. Yet, he thought so. This speaks of the limited experience that our teachers and Principals have: the numbers of the situation are against them.

It is not easy being the parent of a gifted child, if that child is highly, exceptionally or profoundly gifted, a genius or a prodigy - but you must accept that it is likely that the ONLY people who will understand your child are you and your spouse. The teachers will not have met his or her kind, before. The only people who can guide you, therefore, are other parents of gifted children - or people who were gifted as a child and have been through the situation. That is one reason why I have this blog: I can share my understanding of the situation with you - and perhaps help other gifted people worldwide.

If you have a thought, please write a comment. Thanks.

(If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, go to:
http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:16 PM  2 comments

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Emotional intelligence in a baby: self-control

Can babies have high emotional intelligence?

Tiarnan Hasyl Cawley is just nine months old yet, today, he showed remarkable self-control.

He was crying in the taxi on the way to visit a friend. My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley was trying to comfort him when she noted that we were nearing our destination.

"Stop!", she demanded, of the driver.

"OK." Tiarnan answered, unexpectedly, amidst his tears, and stopped crying at once. He had thought Syahidah was asking him to stop crying.

We were stunned. Never had I heard of a baby being able to exhibit such self-control before, as to stop his crying on command, like that. His eyes were still red, his lips still downcast, but fresh tears had stopped flowing, and his face soon unwrinkled and adopted its normal state of repose. It was as if the weather had suddenly cleared, in the midst of the monsoon: utterly surprising.

Self-control is an aspect of emotional intelligence which some adults have not truly mastered - perhaps many of them, in fact. To see it in a baby of nine months was startling - even to us, who have come to expect the surprising in our children.

This observation is an interesting one to set alongside the display of courage of his elder brother Fintan. There is something in common there, I feel. There is a common emotional intelligence at work: this is just a different aspect of the same phenomenon.

For more on Tiarnan Hasyl Cawley's early athleticism, go to:

http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/babies-who-climb-early-athleticism.html

and:

http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/athleticism-in-baby-opens-door-to.html

For a discussion of Tiarnan's very early speech development:

http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/talkative-baby-genius-verbal.html

For Tiarnan's musicality:

http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/09/baby-who-sings-himself-to-sleep.html

For Tiarnan crawling downstairs at eight months (after upstairs at five months):

http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/09/baby-tiarnan-crawls-downstairs.html

If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, Tiarnan's scientific child prodigy brother, go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:13 PM  0 comments

Valentine Cawley's Blog: child prodigy examined

Valentine Cawley's blog is about child prodigy, genius, and the gifted. It looks at Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged six, and my other sons, who each have their gifts, too. Fintan Nadym Cawley, three, is a natural leader, an imaginative actor, and has a native courage. Then there is Tiarnan Hasyl Cawley, 9 months: a very precocious baby, showing evidence of early motor development - crawling at four months, for instance - musicality, early speech - first words at two months - and a gift for observation and deduction.

Ainan Celeste Cawley was talking at a couple of weeks, crawling at four months, walking at six months. He has since developed an adult grasp of scientific concepts and knowledge, of fine detail. He shows creative thinking within not only the scientific domain, but all others, too, that he looks at, including music and art. More about him can be found within the blog.

Valentine Cawley's blog will be updated daily and will look at genius and prodigy in general, and the Cawley family in particular.

If you are new to this site, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

There you will find links to key pages on the blog, and a short description of each page.

Happy reading.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:20 PM  0 comments

Fintan Cawley, Child Hero

How young can a hero be? What is heroism? Where does it come from?

From watching my child, Fintan Nadym Cawley, 3, I would say that a toddler or a baby can be a hero. If the child is able to understand the idea of danger and is able to make a decision to face that danger in order to help another, at personal risk to themselves, then that child is a hero.

Fintan Nadym Cawley is a hero. He is only three years old, but he has the characteristics that make up a hero. I have often noted his courage in his daily play, in the situations he gets into, and the way he reacts to them. He is not afraid. He is not tearful. Indeed, in some situations in which other children would be crying, he is laughing, as if thrilled to be facing the challenge and enjoying doing so.

Today I will give one sweet example. His elder brother, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, had been walking down the road near his grandmother's house, when, suddenly, and without any forewarning, a dog leapt forward from a house with an open gate - and started barking aggressively at him. Ainan was startled and frightened, for the dog was large, the bark was loud and ferocious - and the gate was open. He ran away as fast as he could, bursting into tears at the shock as he did so. The dog did not make chase beyond the territory of his house grounds, however - though how was Ainan to know that he wouldn't? He thought he was about to be savaged by a dog let free.

Ainan Celeste Cawley's reaction is understandable. Any child faced with sudden personal danger and fright of that kind, from an animal larger than themselves, would cry. Fintan Nadym Cawley's reaction however, was of a very different kind.

"What happened Abang?" he asked concernedly. Abang means "older brother".

Ainan explained about the dog's sudden seeming attack.

Fintan was at once emboldened - and outraged. "Where? Where is it?", he demanded, his head turning and already looking around for something that he wanted. "I will kill it with my stroller!", he vowed, his stocky body filled with resolution and certainty of will.

"No Fintan!" we cried as one and moved forward to restrain him. For Fintan Nadym Cawley, three, would, undoubtedly, have taken his stroller and proceeded along the road to challenge the dog - and punish it for what it had done to his beloved Abang, Ainan Celeste Cawley.

We were touched, by this display of brotherly love - and bravery.

Where was Fintan's fear? Why was he unafraid to challenge a dog that was many times his weight and bulk, all teeth and bark? In Fintan the affront he felt that his beloved brother should be so upset, so endangered, denied the possibility of fear: it simply did not well up in him, as it would in others. All he was concerned about was the need to protect his brother - and right this wrong.

Ainan Celeste Cawley, 6, is a scientific child prodigy - but his younger brother Fintan Nadym Cawley is a hero - and I don't think either is more special than the other. Both characteristics define them as special, in differing, but equally important ways. One is a gift of the mind, the other a gift of character. Depending on the demands of a situation one becomes more important than another, but, in absolute terms, neither is supreme: both are valuable qualities in a man, for one day, both will be men: one a genius, the other a hero. I am happy with that.

For more on Fintan Nadym Cawley, as a natural leader see:

http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/09/leader-of-pack_25.html

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:45 AM  5 comments

Parenting the prodigy, gifted: moderation

In the posts beneath A Confederacy of Dunces at http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/confederacy-of-dunces.html and The Biggest Bully in the School at http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/biggest-bully-in-school.html, I have advised certain courses of action for a reader. Her son is being ill-treated by a teacher at school. The teacher is apparently "in denial" about the existence of gifted children, and is engaging in destructive behaviours towards the child, such as shouting, isolation, rejection of his work etc. I advised a scale of actions from changing class, to changing school, or possibly even considering going to a private school on a scholarship.

Given various ways to react to a bullying situation, like this one, which is the best? She chose to inquire of the headmaster whether her son could change class. I consider this to be the best choice, usually. Why is this so? Because it reduces the disruption to the child. In changing class, but not school, the child would still have access to the friendships built up in the time at the school. The environment is still a familiar one and the transition should, therefore, be easier. So, in circumstances where a change is necessary to protect the child from negativity, a MODERATE change may often prove to be the best one. The minimum change necessary to eliminate the source of the problem is the one to go for. Sometimes the mininum change will, however, be a change of school - or even a change of city, if the schools prove unsuitable. Whatever the situation, take the gentlest course: it gives your child the fewest adjustments to make, and should prove least painful.

(If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy, go to:
http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:14 AM  0 comments

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