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 +

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Radical acceleration", that isn't.

Here is the latest in the Gifted Education Programme saga, that has been unfolding on these pages.

The Gifted Education Branch now wishes to "radically accelerate" Ainan, my scientific child prodigy son, aged seven years and three months. He is presently in Primary 2, which is his age class. However, the decision has been made to "twin" him with a high school for science.

There are two high schools under consideration and the decision will be made based on timetabling. One of the schools specializes in science and maths and would, I think, be the best choice, from that point of view. We will see.

I have one concern though. Although it may seem to be "radical acceleration" to place a seven year old in high school, it wouldn't actually be acceleration at all - but a kind of deceleration. You see, Ainan has already studied the curriculum that he would be required to study at the high school. Thus he would be covering again what he already knows. I puzzle at this. I raised the matter with the Gifted Education Branch Officer and was told that: "Gifted education is not just about content, there are other factors..." she then went on to say something that completely eluded my comprehension and thus recall. I am accustomed to this in speaking with her - because there is something in me that only accepts statements that are reasonable. Apparently, content of the lessons is not the primary consideration with "radical acceleration".

I think they are being conservative, in a way, because of his age. He would be among people more than twice his age...and I think they feel that that is enough of a gap to begin with. So, they have decided upon this strange kind of social acceleration/academic deceleration as a first step. I am not sure it is the best one. I told them that Ainan would be bored with repeating a curriculum he has already covered...but this remark, as usual, was not entirely absorbed. There is hope though: once he has begun to accelerate, perhaps he will be allowed to move to a level that actually offers him something new, in due course. Whatever level that might be.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:48 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"she then went on to say something that completely eluded my comprehension and thus recall. I am accustomed to this in speaking with her - because there is something in me that only accepts statements that are reasonable. Apparently, content of the lessons is not the primary consideration with "radical acceleration"."

Oh! I totally relate to that one! Good observation! I hate it when that happens... Because if I were to at least remember the wording, I might be able to work out what is going on... Even nonsense can eventually be explained in a way where I at least get to know how the other person thinks better and understand why they were talking nonsense... Hmmm. Maybe a good trick would be to give each sort of nonsense some kind of an identity... that would give me a little hint from which to remember what was said, and probably make me a heck of a lot more shrewd...

I can understand your annoyance with him having been put in high school. For a bright side, even if they dont acellerate him again, now he at least wont waste anywhere near as many years. When he graduates high school, he will be able to go to college or study independantly.

Oh dear... I wonder how he will adjust to being around all those kids who are going through puberty... who will be drinking and smoking and partying ... maybe things are different in Singapore. Maybe he just wont run into many of those types even if you do have them... I wonder if he knows what teenagers are like and what to expect from them.

Now it ocurrs to me that there are some adult topics that ... in America, he would end up being told about in an indecent sort of way in a high school. If thats his first impression of them, that would be a bad thing. Im sure you know what I am getting at... Maybe Singapore isnt that open about such things...

9:14 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I have never been to school in Singapore, so I don't know what it is like from the point of view of the child - but I have taught in Singapore schools. They seem a whole lot less aggressive than Europeans/Londoners - and generally more accepting of others. They are a milder bunch. They are also less individual in many ways...but that is another topic.

I will have to teach myself to "record" nonsense when I hear it, instead of just screening it out, as I do: I might then be able to at least examine it!

I don't know how long he will be in high school: the gifted branch speak of "no barriers" - but actually show an element of conservatism in their thinking...pervasively in some ways. Perhaps it is because they have never had a child like Ainan before - just maths kids (who are different in many ways).

It is an experiment: we will see how he does. If all goes well, perhaps we can accelerate again to somewhere where he will be exposed to new things.

Thanks, as ever, for your posts, Kathy.

Best wishes

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thanks, as ever, for your posts, Kathy."

Youre going to be taking that back later on when you realize how many comments I have left you to deal with today... Lol. :D

I wonder what makes them less individual but more accepting of differences and milder at the same time? It seems like lacking individuality and accepting diversity would be mutually exclusive...

- Kathy

11:52 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Nope: I still thank you for your posts, however many there are!

As for the Singapore student situation: I think it comes down to less aggression. Even if they don't like you, they are going to be less aggressive about it than Europeans or Americans would be - that enhances matters even if underneath it all, the viewpoint is the same (whether it is or not).

I think one reason they accept differences more is because Singaporeans are told they are a meritocracy. More of that later.


7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great, then you wont mind how many posts Ive left you today, either. :D

Oooh... I do want to hear what you have to say about meritocracy :D :D :D

Oh yeah and now I wonder if youll tell me more about the books youre writing, too?

- Kathy

12:13 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

A post on meritocracy will be forthcoming soon enough.

As for my books: I like to keep mum about such things...until it comes time to publicize a work to be published. I will keep you informed as and when.


12:18 AM  

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