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, July 13, 2007

NUS High School responds

Yesterday, Ainan, 7, moved class at NUS High.

As regulars know, he has been attending the National University of Singapore High School for Maths and Science. The problem has been that the class has been of too low a level compared to his degree of understanding.

Yesterday, however, he attended a new class. The level was higher - but still well within his range.

After class his mother, Syahidah, spoke to the teacher.

The teacher remarked: "He was able to answer all the questions I asked him."

That is good and it is bad. It is good that his knowledge is strong enough to allow him to answer all the questions - but it is also a bad indicator that even this class is not of the right level. To be at the right level, I believe a class should be extending boundaries: so it should NOT all be immediately answerable. If it is, then nothing new is being learnt. It is only when the answers require new knowledge, skills or expertise, that the student is going to learn anything.

So, yes, NUS has responded to the mismatch between Ainan's ability and knowledge and the demands of class - but the response is too little.

Nevertheless, Ainan enjoyed the class and was comfortable there: there was something about it that he liked. The only issue is that if he stays in this class, he is unlikely to learn much that is new. He might pick up something here and something there as the knowledgeable teacher strays off the beaten track onto something related, but new - but the core of what is being taught is unlikely to contain much that is novel.

I am heartened, that there has been some response to the situation - it is just that the response needs to be of greater magnitude if it is going to meet Ainan's needs. We will see what happens in the next couple of weeks. I will keep you posted.

(If you would like to read more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, seven years and seven months, a scientific child prodigy, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and no months, Tiarnan, seventeen 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 in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:16 PM 


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