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, February 16, 2007

Ainan's Chemistry Conference

As readers of the post below will know, yesterday Ainan had a meeting with two chemists and his Principal. The meeting took place over an hour or so and, during that time, the chemists asked questions about broad areas of Chemistry, seeking areas of strength and weakness. It seems that they only found the former, for they concluded that: "Ainan has an amazing depth and breadth of knowledge in Chemistry."

The chemists have promised to write a report on Ainan's chemistry knowledge so that it might be available to further his education. So, the conclusions of the chemistry "conference" are positive - but that still doesn't change the fact that the manner in which they approached the meeting was offensive to both parents.

Yesterday, my wife went to Ainan's school with him in a final attempt to be admitted to the meeting. She failed in doing so. She informed them that it was rather insulting to be excluded in this way but that made little impression. Thus, despite our every effort, Ainan faced this committee alone. That he acquitted himself well is a testament to his mental maturity - but that is little consolation. My wife pointed out to them that in most countries the presence of the parents would be required by law: here, it seems, it is denied, whether by law or not. The whole experience has left us much less happy than before about what is happening. We no longer feel entirely in control of the situation.

One thing that can be said of the Gifted Education Branch, though, is that they are very thorough. One would have thought that the evidence they have so far gathered would be enough to decide what to do next - but no, it is not. The next step is for Ainan to be observed in the classroom to see how he is in that situation; to view how the teacher interacts with him; and how he interacts with the teacher and his classmates. We haven't been informed whether there is yet another step after that. Each hoop passed, so far, has only revealed another to be jumped through. I feel like I am in a hall of mirrors surrounded by infinite reflections: it seems impossible to make progress through them all.

They did say one thing though that puts Ainan's life and ability into perspective. They said that Ainan is the only scientific child prodigy in Singapore. That is in a country of four and a half million people. They did add, though, that they have a number of maths child prodigies...but no other scientific one. Perhaps that explains their intensity with regards to him.

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

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:33 PM 


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