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, February 03, 2007

First steps to homeschooling

The laws regarding homeschooling vary from country to country all over the world. In some nations it is a matter of personal choice - such as in the UK and USA - but in others it is strictly prohibited, such as in Germany. It is interesting to note that in countries with a democratic present and past, homeschooling is permitted freely - but in countries with a fascist or totalitarian history, it is restricted. That might say something about the possible future of such countries, too. Anyway, let that be an aside which I won't follow further except to say that to restrict parents on how they bring up their children - and education is part of this - is one restriction of personal freedom, too far.

In Singapore, there are two sets of laws regarding homeschooling: one for expats and one for Singaporeans. Expats are allowed to do as they please with the schooling of their children. Singaporeans, on the other hand, are not. To be allowed to homeschool your child, if you are Singaporean, as my son Ainan is, (half-Malay, half-Irish), one must ask permission of the curiously named Compulsory Education Unit. It is up to this unit to decide whether you are permitted to home school your child. They state that you must satisfy the Ministry of Education that you will fulfil the "two main objectives of a Singaporean education" before you are allowed to homeschool the child. Interestingly, I could find no mention on that page, of what those objectives were.

Anyway, concerned, as we are that Ainan is not being suitably stimulated in school - for the physical sciences, for instance, which are Ainan's main focus, are not even taught in Singapore until Secondary School - we have contacted the Compulsory Education Unit. This seemed the best step forward since we can't really wait until he is 13 to get him a scientific education. That would be ridiculously stifling for him. Within about three hours of my email, I got a reply seeking further information. That was pretty prompt. Let us see how long it takes them to make a decision and what kind of decision it will be.

We are not quite ready to homeschool him, at this precise moment - but I thought it best to get the process underway since I have no idea how long it takes to secure permission - or what hoops we will be asked to jump through to win permission.

Incidentally, compulsory education is a serious business in Singapore, it being a criminal offence not to send a Singaporean child to school - unless special permission for exemption has been granted and alternative arrangements made, and approved.

I sent the email three days ago, let us see how quickly matters unfold.

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

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:16 PM 


Blogger Julie said...

Hi, Valentine - just called by to read your latest posts - and wishing you well on your quest for permission to homeschool.


10:28 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your kind well wishes.

I hope to succeed in our quest to homeschool...but there appear to be very, very few families homeschooling in Singapore, so we will just have to wait and see if permission will be given.

Best wishes to you and yours.

12:28 PM  

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