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 +

Friday, November 10, 2006

Singapore City: Fire and Rain

Singapore is an unusual place: it looks like a western city, in parts, and in others like nothing I have ever seen.

I am not a Singaporean. I was born in London of Irish parents - and grew up between Ireland and England. Singapore, therefore, is an odd place for me to be living in. Its essential character is very unwestern, though it apes the western economic model.

There are two events that speak of what it is like here. The first happened yesterday, as my wife and I were shopping in Bukit Batok West Mall, a shopping centre - one of many that fill Singapore with consumer choices. This is a local mall and relatively compact: five floors of shops about a central courtyard.

As we tried to enter the lift in the mall yesterday, we were surprised to see the lift doors open, the lift shaft empty, and filled with smoke. Somewhere there was a fire. We left the lift shaft and entered the shopping centre proper. All about us we could here fire alarms. The shopping centre was crowded with late afternoon shoppers...surely there would be a panic as people tried to leave. I looked all about me. It was as if all were deaf and none had a sense of smell - for the bite of smoke was clear in the air. Everyone continued to shop as if nothing was happening. People were crowding to go UP the escalators, into the body of the building. The alarms rang on, their cries unheeded. My wife is Singaporean - and she too, in a way, seemed unconcerned. She urged me upstairs to "drop off the library books". In reply, I asked: "Do you want them to burn?"

She shook her head at that but urged me upward all the same. I couldn't see where the fire was...and there seemed no imminence of conflagration, so up I went, amazed at the silliness of it all. We dropped off the library books. As we did so, the intercom announced: "We have an emergency in the building, please leave the building."

I looked about. No-one made a move to leave. Everyone continued to shop as if caught in a spell of consumerism. My wife, too, was unbothered: she went to look at mobile phones. By now the air was hazy with a light grey smoke. Yet, no-one made any effort to escape the building. It was surreal. My wife entered a mobile phone shop, deaf to my appeal to leave. As I was about to drag her out, the intercom announced: "The emergency is under control, the emergency is under control: there was a fire in a fourth storey restaurant. There is no need to leave now." In other words, whatever you do, SHOP.

We left the building. Throughout the entire experience, not one person around us had expressed any emotional reaction or response of any kind to the situation. Yet the building had been on fire. Truly surreal. That was the day of fire.

Today was the day of rain. People who live in the West imagine that they have to endure a lot of rain. The patter of droplets from the sky is enough for them to reach for their umbrellas with a sigh, imagining that they are put upon. However, you have never seen rain until you have been caught in a monsoon deluge, as I was today. Rain in Singapore is a sudden affair. It ambushes you from skies instantly darkened, with an elemental force. Today I left the house to grey skies, but soon found myself buried in a watery onslaught, that filled the streets with inches of rain. Before long the storm drains - which are about four foot deep - and three foot wide, on the sides of the road, were filled to overflowing. I wish I had had a camera, to catch the image of water raging over the side of a storm drain and flooding a bus stop where a hapless Singaporean stood waiting for a bus in several inches of water flowing past her ankles, with more on its way. Bizarre.

Within ten minutes it was over. The rain stopped. The drain cleared. The inches of water in the roads drained away and it was gone. Again, I felt the surreality of life in this tightly controlled and ordered nation.

Truly it is a city of fire and rain.

(For posts on my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, and his gifted brothers go to: Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:53 PM  14 comments

Convergent thinker, divergent thinker

I discussed convergent thinking a few weeks ago, in response to a post. I feel it is important enough to highlight here.

A convergent thinker is the classic high IQ student. The skill that IQ measures is the ability to converge on a single answer to a question that only has one answer - or is supposed to have only one answer. Sometimes a different type of thinker, the divergent thinker, will see another answer to the same test that isn't an option. This can cause problems for the divergent thinker in taking IQ tests. Both my brother Josh, the "savant" with an extremely high IQ, and myself have noticed what appear to be ambiguities in professional IQ tests. That is questions to which there seems to be another answer not offered. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Why is this so? Perhaps the person who constructed the test is a convergent thinker and therefore unable to see what is clear to the divergent thinker: that there is another answer.

This leads us to the classic problem of educating the creative person. Divergent thinkers create. Convergent thinkers solve. By this I mean that the divergent thinker is able to do something new, think something that has never been thought before. The convergent thinker is equipped however to focus on hard problems and solve them. They are a very different kind of person.

Does education value the divergent thinker? Not at all. In every classroom I have been in, the convergent thinker is the one valued by the system. Now a good convergent thinker can do many things well - things that involve difficult problems in hard areas of academia. But most convergent thinkers could not create a new area of academia, for instance. The divergent thinker could do just that, given the right circumstances.

There are, therefore, three types of children, of interest. There is the convergent thinker, who does well in a classroom situation and in most professions. There is the divergent thinker - who may not do well in class because the class doesn't allow for his/her creativity - but who may do very well in life, in something creative. Then there is the rare student who combines both modes of thinking in ample measure. These students are able to handle the classroom well and be creative. I was like that - but being so, sets one apart in a way no amount of social skills can address. To be divergent, is to be "different".

I would say, too, that Ainan Celeste Cawley, my scientific child prodigy son, aged six, is both convergent and divergent. This promises to allow him to be a creative scientist when he grows up and not just a skilled practitioner. We will see. I will watch his thinking unfold in the years to come, but he has already shown strong creativity in his scientific and artistic thinking.

Thomas Alva Edison was a classic divergent thinker, according to certain biographers. He was so divergent that he was completely unable to cope with school at all. His teachers thought him retarded and he was eventually expelled from school as a no-hoper. This is the Edison who invented the lightbulb and built a major electrical corporation. That is how different are the convergent world of the classroom and the divergent world of creative work.

So, is your child a divergent thinker or a convergent thinker...or a combination of both? Don't be concerned about which combination or extreme they show, for each type has a path to success in life: they are just different paths that is all. So which path is your child treading?

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, my scientific child prodigy son, aged six, and his gifted brothers, genius and prodigy, savant and giftedness, in general go to: )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:03 PM  11 comments

Thursday, November 09, 2006

How intelligent are actors? Thespian genius

Thespian genius. It is probably not a term you have seen before. I have just written it for the first time and I don't recall seeing it anywhere else, either. We don't normally associate acting with high intelligence. This may be because some actors, in interview, don't appear all that smart. However, how smart an actor needs to be depends on the kind of role they play, the kind of acting they do: in particular the divide between film/tv and theatre. Theatre actors need to be a whole lot smarter than film actors.

Let us look at what a theatre actor has to do. They have to learn a lot of lines. This may be many indeed: Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is about 1600 lines of poetic writing to learn, if you are playing the lead role. There are not just lines to learn. You must learn your movements, your reactions, the appropriate tone and pitch, volume and delivery of each and every line. You may have to learn an accent, or a new style of walking. You not only need to know your lines: you need to know what other people's lines are - what your "cues" are, that is what you expect them to do and say before you react. Acting requires each actor to learn the contents of a couple of hours of life. This demands a powerful memory, as a minimum requirement. It also demands powers of concentration and focus: you must always be aware of what is going on - is it as you expect? Is your cue approaching? Is everyone in the right position? All of this observation must go on without it showing in your face or movements: you must always be "in character" - that is, you must always seem to be someone other than yourself. Your way of speaking may not be your own, your rhythm, your phrasing, your style, may all differ from your real voice. Your reactions and emotions are likely not to be your own, but those of a character who may respond in ways you do not. It is a true trial of the mind.

Yet actors are often not thought of as thinkers. Why is this? It is because the most famous actors in the world are film stars - and the demands of a film star are much less than those of a theatre actor, as detailed above. Or at least different. You don't need to be "in character" as a film star, for hours at a time. You don't need to concentrate for more than a few minutes, before the end of the take. You don't need to get it right every time, like a theatre actor does: if you make a mistake, you can shoot again. A theatre actor doesn't have that luxury. In short, a film actor can get away with being a lot less competent than a theatre actor. That is why many film actors who try the stage dissappoint audiences. Audiences expect the slickness that a good film editor and director get out of a film star's performance - but the film star often doesn't have the skills to deliver in that way, on the stage, where there is nothing but him or her and the character to hand.

Then again, a stage actor has to project his voice, to reach the back of the audience. Some stage actors react larger than life so that people will see their reactions. A film actor is more subtle. There is no need to project, the microphone will pick it all up; the actor should never be other than lifelike in his reactions and responses, because the camera sees all. So just as film actors don't do stage, sometimes stage actors don't travel well to the silver screen.

Both kinds of actors need an emotional memory: the ability to recall their emotional states on cue, and, if not feel them again, as some do, at least show them. That is not easy, for most people.

When the average person tries to act, they usually fail badly. Acting is not as easy as it looks. An actor's performance may look as easy as being yourself and having an ordinary conversation, but there is great skill involved, in that.

Why do I write this post? Well, when I was much younger, I was an actor. My family didn't understand this pursuit and thought it beneath me: that I was better than that, in their eyes. They thought that acting didn't make good use of my mind. I don't think they understood the true demands of acting. Most of my work was theatre - and so required a high level of mental commitment from me, as it does from all actors. I believe I learnt a lot through acting - about myself, about others - and about not being afraid. Actors need courage. In particular theatre actors need courage. The stage can be a very threatening place. There is an expectant audience out there - and they will witness every mistake or slip up you make. I never made one in all my acting career, such was my focus and attention. However, I did become involved in someone else's mistake.

I was playing the 10th Juror (if I recall correctly), in the late 80s, in Reginald Penrose's Twelve Angry Men (which you may recall was made into a film with Henry Fonda), at Cambridge University. We were playing in the round, with the audience in front of us, and behind us. We were on stage the whole time, with no respite in the wings. There were no wings. It was the most exposed piece of theatre I ever did.

Anyway, we were sharing the stage with a very confident young actor. A man who had been a star of the National Youth Theatre, in England. He seemed to feel that he was truly great. I won't name him...but just characterize him. No-one else on stage had his pedigree - but we all had something else which he lacked - enough humility to focus on our work and do our best. This key difference showed its worth one night. You see, this cocky actor just wasn't paying attention and, in one scene, he gave the wrong reply to a cue - and skipped the play forward several pages of script in one response. Suddenly, everyone was in the wrong position, doing and saying the wrong thing - and a key element of plot had been left out. It took an instant for it to dawn on me and one of my fellow actors what had happened. He looked at me, with eyes that said: "Let's handle this" - and we did. We both proceeded to improvise a scene to fill the gap that had been created. We threw lines at each other and caught them and responded in a suitable way so that all the missing information and plot elements were filled in - and then we passed seamlessly back into the body of the play, where everything should have been. It took a few minutes, but they were the longest minutes I had ever spent on stage.

Do you know what the best part of this was? No-one in the audience even noticed. We had repaired the scene without anyone doubting, for a moment, the truthfulness of what was occurring.

Theatre actors have to be able to handle that kind of thing. It is not something that can be done without high intelligence.

So, the next time you hear that some young man or woman is acting, don't think that they are "wasting their gifts". Acting is a gift all of its own - and a challenge for any mind, if you take on a large role, in a complex production, on the stage.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, my scientific child prodigy son, aged six, and his gifted brothers, as well as genius, prodigy, savant and giftedness in general go to: )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:17 PM  13 comments

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The mathematical savant who isn't a savant

I believe from the evidence of my life, and from the evidence of science, that great gift is a gift of the genes. It flows through families by inheritance: it is not something made, laboriously in a life, toiling day by day. It is there, or it isn't. It shines or it doesn't.

I have posted before about the inheritance of IQ, in Genius IQ and Genetic Inheritance at:

However, it is not just IQ that is inherited - all our mental gifts are - especially the unique gifts that show themselves to a wondering world every now and again, in people we know as geniuses or prodigies. This blog is about my children and their gifts - but occasionally I will also post about their relatives to show what is very clear to me: a pattern of genetic inheritance of gift flowing through my family. You may very well see the same pattern in your own family - and if so, please comment about it, to expand our understanding of this issue.

I have many relatives, but I shall focus on one, who shall not be named. He doesn't know I am writing of him, so I will not reveal any details of his life, except the one that pertains to this post. He has shown a very special gift, that he has never thought much of, since he was a child. You see he is a "lightning calculator". He has a savant-like gift for number. He is a very intelligent man. When tested by his employer on an adult IQ test, he maxed the test. So he is not a savant for only one reason: savants usually display some form of mild retardation. He is not retarded. He is profoundly gifted. However, he shows the gift of a mathematical savant, too. I find this interesting, for it shows that savant type gifts can exist in people of normal or even extraordinary intelligence.

Ever since he was a young boy he could do something very strange with numbers. If you asked him a calculation, using the normal mathematical functions, he would be able to give you the answer straight away, without hesitation and without error. What was strange about this was that he could do so quicker than you could type the question into a calculator. He could do it for large numbers - and he was always right. In earlier days, this gift of his would have been much prized, but in the age of computers, it is something that is not valued, despite the fact that he could beat you on your calculator to the answer. Whether or not our society values this gift, it indicates a special quality of the mind, that is very rare.

When he was training in London for a financial institution, the lecturer noticed his gift for numbers and gave him a very long, multifunctional calculation to do, which he wrote on the board. As he finished writing it, he gave the answer. The lecturer then asked if anyone in the audience had a calculator and got them to check the answer. He was right. The lecturer observed that in the twenty years he had been training the entrants to this financial institution, most of them with strong mathematical backgrounds, he had never encountered anyone so fast with numbers as him.

When he was at school, there was a child mathematical prodigy there, whom the press had hailed as "the brightest boy since the middle ages". This boy challenged my relative to an arithmetical duel. He duly accepted. A third boy chose two very large numbers for multiplication and called them out. It was not long before the prodigy shouted out an answer. My relative said, at once: "You are wrong!", then a moment later gave his own answer. The calculator was duly set to work. My relative was right. Upon being pronounced the winner, he then turned to the prodigy and told him exactly which step the other had made a mistake in, what the mistake was, and how the miscalculation had come about. While working out the calculation for himself, he had followed the other's miscalculation and worked out the solution of which step, out of all possible steps, and which error, out of all possible errors, would have resulted in the answer the other had given.

There was an embarrassed silence. My kin had won.

(If you would like to learn more of the Cawley family, in particular, my son Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged six, and his gifted brothers go to: )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:49 AM  0 comments

How my blog got its name

The Boy Who Knew Too Much, seemed to me to be the perfect description of the feeling one gets on talking to Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, my scientific child prodigy son. He is simply overflowing with knowledge of things that I have no idea how he learned, or from where. At the time I thought of the name, I did so without reference to the film The Man Who Knew Too Much, or, I was startled to learn, episode 20 of The Simpson's, called, you guessed it, The Boy Who Knew Too Much. There was never any intention to compare my son Ainan to Bart Simpson. At the very least Ainan has a better haircut.

I appreciate that, in accidentally naming this blog with words used to describe a cartoon that I may have inadvertently created a search problem for those seeking to find this blog. If you have suffered so, sorry.

For more on Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy, please go to: for a tour. Thanks.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:14 AM  0 comments

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Are you the parent of a gifted child?

Gifted children are widely misunderstood: sometimes accidentally so, sometimes mischievously so. Many people speak of them in ways which only further the misunderstandings. One such person, is, I believe, Malcolm Gladwell.

For those of you who have read much of my site will know that Gladwell's opinion on prodigy is off the mark. However, what he says about prodigy is actually addressed to a wider target: the precocious in general. This means all the gifted children of the world - and the gifted adults are his target. Presumably, in targeting them so, he does not include himself among them - and I would tend to agree with that.

Let us look at one of his contentions. He says precocious children - that is gifted children, like your son or daughter - are nothing more than gifted learners. He says as children they learn well - but as adults, they are not gifted doers. He draws a distinction between childhood giftedness, equating this to being a gifted learner, and adulthood gift, equating this to gifted doing - or productive activity - that is actually having an output. He contends that they are different things and so argues that gifted learning as a child, does not portend gifted doing as an adult.

My own son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, a scientific child prodigy, is a living refutation of Malcolm Gladwell's contention on giftedness. You see, my son is much more a gifted doer than a gifted learner. He spends his time writing science books on a variety of subjects. He invents experiments of his own. He theorizes about the phenomena he observes in the world and learns of in his explorations. He is his own guide, his own motivator: he charges ahead dragging me behind. This is not just a "gifted learner" at work - although he is definitely that - he is also a gifted doer - a very active, productive, young doer.

I would like your feedback. Is your gifted child/precocious child a gifted doer as well as a gifted learner? Do they busy themselves with projects? Is Gladwell off the mark with precocious children in general as he is with mine?

The statistical analysis below that I performed on Gladwell's figures show that he is wrong in his interpretation of the evidence. Let us flesh out the disproof that analysis provided, with some real life stories: just comment below if you feel that your gifted child's story/nature/behaviour is relevant. Thanks.

For more on the Cawley story, in particular that of Ainan Celeste Cawley, my scientific child prodigy son, aged six and his gifted brothers, go to: for a tour. Thanks.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:02 PM  8 comments

Monday, November 06, 2006

Record breaking internet blog readers

I would like to thank my regular readers for being regular - and for reading.

I would also like to note that some readers, really read my blog. My site notes the time that visitors visit. Some of you are regular and steady: you read daily, take in all the new posts, perhaps look at a few old ones. Some of you however, who must clearly be new to the site do something marvellous to witness: you read every posting, or almost every posting, from the top of the blog to the bottom. One visitor from the University of California Los Angeles (perhaps someone in their Brain Research department?) spent one hour, twenty four minutes and ten seconds on my site, on their first visit. They win the Gold Medal, for blog reading, at this time. The Silver medal for second place goes to a blog reader in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, who spent one hour, six minutes and eleven seconds reading my blog, on their first visit. The Bronze medal has too many contenders to sort through so shall go unawarded, at this time.

I am pleased at your response and responsiveness: it makes writing a pleasure. Thanks to you all.

(If you need a tour of my site and wish to learn of my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, and his gifted brothers, go to: Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:33 PM  4 comments

Malcolm Gladwell and child prodigy

It is common in the world of child prodigies, that academics and others comment on their nature, without having much acquaintance with them. One such person is Malcolm Gladwell. In an amazingly uninformed talk he gave at the Association for Psychological Science, he attacked the idea of child prodigy. He gave his own life as an example. He said that he had been a child prodigy in running. Yes: running. He then said that as a child prodigy he was a winner, but after taking several years off running and returning to it as an adult he was only mediocre, compared to other adults. He then drew the extraordinarily tenuous conclusion that childhood performance does not predict adult performance for all prodigy types. Malcolm Gladwell may have written two bestsellers, but from this sample of his thinking, he is not much of a thinker. You cannot generalize from a physical activity like running to mental activities like prodigy as a scientist, artist, musician, etc. They are not the same thing at all - as should be self-evident. Furthermore, there is a very obvious explanation to Gladwell's failure as an adult to run as well as he had as a child: deconditioning. He had not run for several years. He returns to it having become unfit - and then is surprised that he does not perform well. Err...excuse me, but isn't that the expected outcome for ANYONE of ANY age, who doesn't participate in a sport for several years. Had Mr. Malcolm Gladwell continued to train indefatigably throughout his school days, into adulthood, perhaps learning along the way, with experience, how to run more efficiently, he would, no doubt, have maintained his edge in running. He lost it, because he ignored his sport for years. His experience has nothing at all to do with child prodigy - and I would question whether running could even be regarded as a prodigious category - unless it were displayed, not by a teenager, like Gladwell, but by a baby, of say eight months, like Ainan Celeste Cawley, my son did.

Mr. Gladwell then does something astonishing, in terms of the treatment of evidence. He ignores every historical genius who showed prodigy as a child: Mozart, Norbert Wiener, Giotto...the list could begin here and go on practically forever. (Except to try to dismiss Mozart as an exaggeration of his father and a product of hard work. Try listening to his music and then to Gladwell's arguments: I know which is the more powerful.) What does he do? He cites a list of historical geniuses who were not prodigies as a child - or at least for whom we have no accounts of their prodigious nature. He reasons from this that child prodigy does not indicate adult genius to come. If you are reading this, you are, no doubt, gifted enough to see the flaw in his reasoning. He has partitioned the evidence into two groups. One group consists of those prodigies who became adult geniuses. The other group consists of those who became adult geniuses but were not known to be child prodigies. Instead of taking both groups into account, as anyone without an agenda, and without bias, would do, what does he do? He throws the first group away: that evidence is not even considered. This is not an honest argument therefore. It is not a fair argument. It is not an argument that considers all the evidence. It is not, therefore, a scientific argument - it is rather like a political argument - one that hides the evidence against his position, and attacks the other position, from a position based on false premises. It is not the kind of argument that should be admitted to public debate - yet, because of Gladwell's fame, his argument is listened to with an inappropriate respect.

He then compounds this deceptive argument, by referring to a study of 200 highly accomplished adults, that examined whether they had been precocious as a child. 34 per cent of these adults showed precociousness as a child. For Malcolm Gladwell this was evidence that precocity as a child did not lead to adult genius, since only 34 per cent of accomplished adults had been precocious. Any of you, reading this, who are logically, mathematically or scientifically gifted will note the flaw in his reasoning. Far from being proof that precocity does not lead to adult achievement, as Gladwell proposes, the figures actually prove the opposite. You see childhood precocity is rare...very much rarer than the one in three accomplished adults who had been precocious. Therefore Mr. Malcolm Gladwell's OWN FIGURES DISPROVE his position when analyzed with what he appears to lack: an analytical intelligence, able to discern the truth behind a set of numbers. For it is clear that if childhood precocity is very rare, but one third of accomplished adults showed childhood precocity, then it is abundantly obvious that accomplished adults who had been precocious as children are highly over-represented in the achieving population. What does this mean? It means that if your child is precocious that they are many times more likely to become a "highly accomplished adult" - which Gladwell takes to be a short cut for adult genius - than a child who is not precocious. This is proven by the very figures Gladwell uses to attempt to disprove that child prodigy leads to adult genius.

What his figures also show (but of which he is unaware) is that there are two paths to adult achievement: the fast precocious one, which is statistically more likely to bear fruit - and the slow non-precocious one, which from the figures above, given the far greater frequency of this state, in childhood, yet only twice the frequency in adulthood, is statistically far less likely to bear fruit.

Mr. Malcolm Gladwell may have written two bestsellers, but that does not mean that he is a rigorous thinker. It does not mean that he has the background to make an authoritative statement on the relationship of child prodigy to adult genius. Perhaps Gladwell understands the numbers better than he seems to. Perhaps he is deliberately distorting the truth for his own agenda. Or maybe he is simply not scientifically gifted enough to analyse the situation truthfully. I do not know why he argued as he did with the evidence he gave, since it actually supports the opposite position much better than his own. We do not need to know why Gladwell argued as he did - but there is one clue in the subject of his next book. It is about late bloomers. So perhaps he attacks child prodigies just to promote a book. I won't be rushing out to buy it. Nor any of his others for that matter - after his display of such a lack of mental cogency on the matter of child prodigies.

(If you would like to read about a genuine case of child prodigy, my son Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, is a scientific child prodigy and about 70 posts on his development and intellectual capacities, along with a discussion of his gifted brothers can be found at: )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:35 PM  1 comments

Sunday, November 05, 2006

An authority on child prodigy

What makes an authority on child prodigy? One who knows one well, would be a good start. Do those who generally write of child prodigy know much of what they speak? From what I have read, of some of these "authorities", I would say not. Many seem never to have met a child prodigy, and those who have seem to have spent little time with them. This is, perhaps, inevitable. Only a parent of a child prodigy would be able to spend much time with a child prodigy. So, only a parent of a child prodigy, would be able to get to know a child prodigy well.

The academics that I have noted, who comment on prodigy, are clearly unaware of what child prodigies are actually like - or how well they can actually think. They seem to be extrapolating from those who are not prodigies at all, and making suppositions, in many cases. I find it alarming that some academics feel able to write, as if they are authorities, on something of which they clearly have no experience.

I know child prodigy well, because I am raising one. I see him daily. I hear him think and I am constantly surprised at the depth of his grasp of obscure and arcane subjects, of the quickness of his comprehension, the speed of his association, the intelligence of his insight. His thinking is not just a question of "more" of what other bright children have: it is something else altogether, something of a different order. Those who write of child prodigy generally don't capture this feeling that comes upon me when I speak with Ainan. Why not? I believe it is because they do not actually know any prodigy well enough to comment. Yet comment they do.

If you want to learn about child prodigy, to witness what a scientific child prodigy is like, these pages are a good place to start. In many cases, the last place to understand prodigy is from the mouths of academics who pronounce upon them. I have spent more hours in the company of a prodigy than they will do in a dozen careers: who then knows prodigy best? A parent of a prodigy, is often the best authority.

(If you would like to read about my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, six, and his gifted brothers, please go to: Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:30 PM  0 comments

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