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 +

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gifted Education Programme, Singapore: developments

Those who are regular readers will know that Ainan, my seven year old, scientific child prodigy son, has come to the attention of the Gifted Education Branch, of the Singaporean Ministry of Education. We had thought this would be a good thing, but as events unfold we are left increasingly unsure.

As you may know, Ainan was assessed last week by two chemists. Both parents were denied admission to the interview and Ainan faced three questioners alone. We were also denied a recording of the meeting. In consolation, however, we were promised a report of the meeting, by the chemists present. Now, it seems we may not even get that. Yesterday, we were told that the report is not for the parents' eyes, but was for internal use. So as it stands, we are not allowed into these meetings, we are not allowed recordings of them and now we are not even allowed access to the reports they produce. We are not happy with this.

At every stage we are misled about what is to happen. We are told that "nothing is done without the involvement of the parents" - and then they cut us completely out of everything, denying us access to all information. We have made a number of reasonable requests - all of which have been met with "no".

We are expected to be totally open with all information - but in return the Gifted Education Branch behaves like a secret society - maintaining a veil of secrecy over all information that they gather about our son...secrecy, note, from the parents of the child and the child himself. It is bizarre...and more than a little offensive.

I have received a detailed form of several pages length, with many questions to answer about Ainan. I am expected to fill this in, openly - but any conclusions drawn from it, any inferences or consequences will, if their past behaviour is a guide to their future behaviour, be with-held from us. This is just not reasonable. I am not going to fill in the form until I get written confirmation that they are going to be more open.

One would have thought that they would have done enough tests already...but no, today is another round of testing: a classroom observation to see how he is in that situation. Is that the last round? Nope. Not if they get their way: they want to give him more academic tests next week. Presently, I am not going to give permission: it is going to stop until they start being forthcoming with information. Maybe they will try to force the issue: we will see.

Our every request, wish and desire is being denied at every step and their way of doing things imposed on us because "we know better", or so their Officer says.

It is curious to note that the Officer assigned to us, only knows how to say no. An analysis of her statements shows no positive reaction to anything we have said to her: it is all her way on all issues.

Now, I don't know how other educational bodies in other countries handle gifted children - but I would have thought that keeping the parents happy was a good idea. Apparently this is not a consideration here.

Syahidah, my wife, even said to one of the Officers today that they were treating our son like a "specimen". Perhaps that is exactly what is happening.

(If you would like to read more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, aged seven years and two months, a scientific child prodigy, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, three, and Tiarnan, thirteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, intelligence, IQ, 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 @ 12:35 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am afraid for you and your family and my heart sinks at what this might be doing to him emotionally/psychologically. I dont even want to fathom the sorts of things that less advanced government employees in that situation might be thinking... They may not be capable of seeing you as people beyond their dazzlement at seeing the gifts. They may not be capable of seeing that you have needs and feelings underneath the sense of importance of the situation. I hope it does not cause them to justify bad actions or act hastily. I hope you can gain enough insight into the way that those people think that your negotiations will be clever and smooth. Maybe theyre all just focused 100% on him, forgetting that you might be incredibly gifted yourself as his parent, and are terrified of messing it up because this case is such an important job for them?

Maybe not. This, to me, is unsettling and makes me feel paranoid.

I thought it might be useful to converse with some people that might know about the gifted education system in Singapore, so I did some internet searches and came up with these results. Maybe youve already thought of that, but its my way of giving a helpful gesture.

A 10 year old piano prodigy in Singapore:

"We are internationally recognized as a resource center for highly gifted children and gifted children with learning disabilities. We began in 1979 assessing children in the Denver area, primarily for school placement decisions. Now, more than half of our clients come from all over the country, and as far away as Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Italy, the Bahamas, England, etc."

9:01 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your concern. We will just have to see what happens here...and prepare to react appropriately.

Your suggested links are welcome and we will look into them.

It is warming to feel that someone out there is supportive...however far away. Thanks for your kindness.

Best wishes from ever sunny Singapore.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Luck :D

- Kathy

8:33 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for everything.

Kind regards

8:42 AM  
Blogger EbTech said...

I feel nervous reading these posts, despite knowing that it happened more than 2 years ago. What could they possibly be hoping to gain with all this secrecy and deception? I can only hope it ends well...

7:01 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. It made us nervous, too. One gets the impression that the whole enterprise has nothing, actually, to do with helping the gifted children. It is seemingly more about MONITORING them. You can draw your own conclusions about why a state like Singapore might manifest its interest in gifted children in this manner. We we abandoned the programme and refused all contact with them. It was the best decision we could have made and we have no regrets regarding it (except that we should not have got involved with them in the first place).

Thanks EbTech for your empathetic feelings.

2:15 PM  

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