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 +

Monday, May 14, 2007

Intellectual stars and national success.

Today, I was privileged to have a conversation with a very intelligent Frenchman. I explored with him the matter of the French attitude towards intellectuals - and learnt that theirs is an enviable stance indeed.

Before I speak of what he spoke of, perhaps I should paint a little background to my perspective on his words. I grew up in Britain. This is a country where, in most schools, to be an intellectual is to suffer a kind of social disease. The gifted child will be almost universally ill-treated, if they have not developed sufficient social skills to deflect such attacks. It is a culture that made being gifted a burden indeed - and one that many children tried to shrug off, by dumbing down: they felt that they had to, because the social environment gave them no choice but to do so.

France, however, stands in contrast to this. The gifted child is, according to my French associate, respected by his fellows and, what's more, the gifted child's parents are well-looked upon, for having raised such a child. I was stunned by that. In many cultures, the parents of a gifted child are actually greeted with incomprehension and the view that they have somehow pushed their child into this "gifted" state. The idea that the parents would actually be admired for their child was a new one for me.

It didn't end there. Throughout French society there is a pervasive respect for the intellectually gifted. Intellectuals actually become media stars. They are listened to with respect and their opinions sought on every matter under the sun. To be an intellectual in France, is often also to be a public figure of some standing. How odd. I don't remember Britain being like that, in the main. Intellectuals did not have the prominence that say, a footballer would have, or a Page Three model (a "topless" model), would have. In Britain it was the "celebrity" who had a sway over the people - not those people who actually had a mind to form opinions and a will to speak them.

France actually has celebrity philosophers. That, in itself, says all that we need to know about the situation of the intellectual, in that culture.

The world would be a better place, in every way, were intellectuals received with the welcome, everywhere, that they receive in France. For a start it could begin in the world's schools. If they were like French ones, there would be no jealousy of the gifted child, from their peers - but a widely held respect. That would surely change the life stories of many gifted children for the better.

Yet, the benefits wouldn't stop there. I believe that every nation that adopted this positive attitude towards its gifted, would benefit, thereby. Their cultures would flourish and deepen, their nations would prosper. Why? Because the best among them would no longer have to hide their gifts; they would no longer have to "dumb down" to enable themselves to fit in: they could soar, instead, to the heights they were born to achieve. They could finally, fully become. How much better a world that would be.

(If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and five months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, three and Tiarnan, fifteen months, please go to: I also write of child prodigy, IQ, gifted education, intelligence, 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 @ 3:11 PM 


Anonymous averral said...

Definitely true and it will be great for intellectual developing not only for the child but the peers around him as well.

I have been regularly alienated in school for my "uniqueness" when i was younger, it was a very solitary point of my life but i grew out of that and blend in much better with older people in my current school due the huge gap of my mental age and biological age.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is good, Averral to hear that you have made your own adjustment, socially.

So far, however, no country is making the changes I propose (as far as I can see). We live in hope.

8:52 AM  

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