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, May 17, 2007

Speed Learning Practical Chemistry

Ainan is now studying practical chemistry at Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College. Regular readers will know this. What you won't know, however, is the nature of the course he is undertaking.

Ainan is doing an A level practical course, condensed into six sessions. You read right: six sessions. In six lessons he is to acquire the fundamentals of A level practical skills. This thought gives me pause. I would like to see him free to experiment, over the long term, in practical matters, exploring his deep interests in Chemistry. Yet, the present need and opportunity are for him to acquire the essence of A level Chemistry skills in only a few lessons. You may be wondering how he can do this - so perhaps I should give you a perspective.

Ainan is familiar with the theory of all that he does in the lab. Thus his experiences in the lab are no more than a physical embodiment of what he has already come to understand in theory. In addition to this, he is very physically capable, being a very hands-on kind of boy. He has always been one to build things and create structures and experiments with his hands, at home: thus the demands of practical chemistry, come naturally to him.

I would, however, like to see a long-term opportunity for him to continue to develop his practical lab experience, allowing him to explore the full measure of chemical techniques and develop the deepest expertise. After this initial course is over, we will see what arrangements can be made and might prove necessary.

For those who are not familiar with the A level: it is of an American college level standard (that is the standard typically reached in an American first degree at University).

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and five months, and his gifted brothers, Fintan, three and Tiarnan, fifteen 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 adults and gifted children. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:18 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Valentine, your extraordinary stories arrived to Italy too...! It's amasing... All your word got my whole attention...! Give my congratulation to your children... Rossella

6:41 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you Rossella for your kind words. It is heartening to hear to receive your congratulations.

Best wishes to you.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A-levels are of American college degree standard!?
that's really surprising because here in the UK, A Levels are what we achieve before we set off to university

10:12 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. American degrees are built on a much broader base of education than the UK. High School level in the US is much behind A levels. In fact, by the end of a Bachelor's degree in the US, students are, in some subjects, up to SIX YEARS behind what a Bachelor's degree has achieved in other Western countries in terms of standards.

UK A levels are of a higher standard than I have observed in first year American Universities. Indeed, first year American lectures available online are very simplistic and seem to be less than O level standard.

Comparative education is interesting and there are many surprises. The Americans have to do Doctoral degrees to catch up to the Bachelor's work in European universities.

11:04 PM  

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