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 10, 2007

It's official: the Gifted Education Programme

In the middle of this week, we had a meeting at Ainan's school regarding him. Present were a panel of six people. These included his Principal and Vice-Principal and two officers from the Gifted Education Programme, a Government department devoted to seeking out and assisting gifted children. Until this moment, we had had no contact with this Department and had only heard gossip about how they work and what they do.

We sat in the boardroom of the school for two hours discussing Ainan. Firstly, he was officially acknowledged as being an appropriate addition to the programme. Then much was spoken of other examples of how the Programme had helped various gifted children over the years. It was all news to me. These children are few and so I suppose one hears little of what is actually done.

This meeting was, I feel, more of an interview of the parents, than a discussion of Ainan. Our every word was judged and weighed as the Government representatives tried to decide what sort of parents we were and what sort of challenges Ainan might face, perhaps, as a result.

One worry that did occur to me is that they seemed to be thinking in terms of a general idea of giftedness at this stage - that of the "globally gifted" child who is good in all things. I think this was their implicit ideal. I am uncertain, at this stage, how much understanding they actually have of prodigious children, with their domain-specific focus, since these children are much rarer than the general body of gifted children that they deal with, in the main. Ainan does show "global gift", but he also shows prodigious scientific precocity - and has no interest in anything outside science apart from, perhaps, Art (and Music once upon a time). Other academic subjects seem to hold little sway over him.

They have proposed that Ainan undergo another layer of testing to decide what intervention might be necessary. He is to meet a chemistry specialist to have a scientific discussion with a view to gathering more information on Ainan's scientific gift and understanding. That meeting will be used to decide any next steps.

To me all of this seems slow. Each stage successfully passed, seems only to open up another stage of assessment and decision-making. Meanwhile, Ainan suffers from the chronic boredom of an inappropriate schooling environment. Let us hope, therefore, that something good comes of all this soon.

I have a worry however. If Ainan doesn't like the scientist assigned to meet him, he will cut the scientist out completely, and just ignore him. He would do this, too, if he detected any scepticism, or criticism from the person (I don't know if the scientist is to be male or female). Basically, if the assigned chemist is not good at building rapport with seven year old children, he will get nothing out of Ainan at all. That could "put a spanner in the works".

Despite this, I suppose it is a victory of sorts, to have begun to engage the interest of a body that might have the power to give Ainan access to a more suitable education. We will just have to see how open-minded they are, and how flexible they will be in approaching the education of an unusual child. I am hoping that they won't just have a cookie cutter grade acceleration type approach. Ainan needs something rather more than that - and more specific, too. We will learn more next week, when the next stage of assessment begins.

(If you would like to learn more about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and two months, or his gifted brothers, please just 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 @ 5:49 PM 


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