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, April 06, 2007

Singapore's experience of the gifted

I came across a strange criticism on the internet, recently, regarding Singapore that I wish to comment on. This commenter - who generally came across as more than a little rabid - said that Singapore had little experience of the gifted - because it had only 4 million basically what would they know?

I thought this comment very interesting for what it revealed about the limited understanding of giftedness of the commenter. Even profound gift at its theoretical prevalance of one in a million would be present in a population of four million. Yet, profound gift is actually more common than its theoretical prevalence - several times more common, at least. Therefore gifts of all dimensions would be present in a population of "only 4 million". Then again there is the fact that Singapore's IQ curve is not centred on 98 like the US (it was an American commenting owing to cultural references made by him or her), or 100 like the UK - but on 104. This is significant. It means that the gifted will, if the curve is otherwise as the IQ curves of other countries are, be much more common, because of the shift to the right of the curve. This means that Singapore will have proportionately MORE gifted people in its "only 4 million" population, than expected.

That, however, is just the beginning of the issue. For not only will more gifted people be present in the Singaporean population - but, culturally, more is done to meet their needs and become aware of those needs. You see, Singapore has a dedicated branch of the Ministry of Education catering solely to gifted children: The Gifted Education Branch. Their sole purpose is to understand and enable gifted children to become what they may. This is a government that has decided to open doors for gifted children - at least, that is the stated purpose of the organization and we are only just beginning to experience the reality of what they can actually achieve - a matter on which we keep an open mind. We will see how effective it really is - but that is another issue. The fact remains that there is a Department dedicated to the gifted - dedicated to understanding them and dedicated to enabling them. Can the USA say that? No. Can the UK say that? No. In fact, off the top of my head I know of no other country which can say that they have a dedicated branch of government devoted to the gifted. That says something. Does it say this country has "Little or no experience of the gifted"...err, no. On the contrary, it says that this country has more experience of the gifted than is usual - much more.

In a country that ignores its gifted and their needs - which appears to be the case at a central government level in not only the US and the UK but probably most, if not all, developed economies - that country will have little knowledge and experience of the gifted - for they are not looking at them as a constituency that needs individual attention; they are not thinking of their nature or their needs - and so they will not know of them. In short, they will be blind to the gifted within them, for they have never looked to see them. That, in fact, is a country which has "little or no experience of the gifted". Oddly, that situation pertains to the very country in which the commenter resides - and not the one that he criticizes.

His argument was basically that a country like Singapore, that had so few people, could not possibly know what a gifted child was - because they didn't have enough people to have any. Statistically, that is nonsense, of course - since four million is more than enough to encompass the variety of human types there are - and to do so amply if the IQ curve is actually centred on a higher than usual point, which it is, at 104.

That Singapore will have fewer gifted children, numerically, than a country almost two orders of magnitude greater in size is obvious - but that it would lack experience of the gifted simply because the other had more of them, is lacking in sense.

Singapore is a country without natural resources. Its only resource is its people. It is this background against which one can understand its wish to understand and cater for the gifted within: for those children are the greatest resource they have.

Singapore knows this; none of the other countries I have mentioned does. So who, then, has "little or no experience of the gifted."?

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

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:00 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear!


10:33 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks so much for your continued support.

Best wishes

10:47 AM  

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