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, January 27, 2007

Tiarnan and the wiring

Today, I took Tiarnan and Ainan to see a laboratory. It is a place where Ainan might further develop his chemistry skills, this time in a practical, experimental context. The place was beautiful: an old-fashioned deep brown, wooden affair, with ancient walls, that have looked down on generations of chemistry students. In cabinets, all around those walls were an abundance of bottles containing coloured chemical solutions of a huge variety - and bottles of named powders too. Each container was formally labelled with its contents. The atmosphere was so intellectually seductive that it made one feel an instant need to become a chemist, just to work there.

I expected Ainan to be interested - and he was, in his own quiet way, gazing at the laden shelves of chemicals and taking in the dark interior of this old lab. What I didn't expect was Tiarnan's reaction. He did something rather unusual. He pointed to a switch on the wall. My wife said: "Button"...but he seemed to ignore that: his attention was drawn by something else. He pointed at the switch, then turned away from it, his eyes tracking across the room and pointed at a bell. He was telling his mum that the button was for the bell. It was a spooky moment, for weaving its way amongst the dark, wooden interior across some distance, was a wire from the button, to the bell...Somehow Tiarnan had deduced that it was the wire which linked button to bell and that in doing so one would ring the other. To do so, he had to follow the path of the wire with his gaze, until it terminated at the bell. Then he had to infer the purpose of that connection. Tiarnan is one year and zero months old. All the wiring in our own home is hidden - so he has had no prior exposure to the idea of wires connecting buttons to the devices they operate. Yet, he noted this, the first time he had seen it, and made a correct deduction. Is Tiarnan to be a scientific wunderkind, too, like his elder brother, Ainan, seven?

It is moments like this, that show evidence of significant observational and deductive reasoning, that lead me to wonder whether there could be another such kid, on his way.

(If you would like to read more about Tiarnan, Ainan (a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and two months) or Fintan, three gifted brothers, please go to: I also write of education, particularly gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)


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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:34 PM 


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