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 +

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The dilemma of the gifted child

The dilemma of the gifted child - at least for those who are more than moderately gifted - is whether to go to school or not. I will explain.

Today, I asked Ainan, 7, whether he learnt more at home, or at school.

He answered without hesitation: "At home."

Now, that is odd when you reflect on what school is supposed to be for. Ainan learns little at school: most of what he knows has been acquired via private, solitary study and reflection - or by interaction with his parents. Little of what he has learnt is owed to schooling. What, then, is school for?

School's primary stated purpose - that of education and the imparting of knowledge - fails where gifted children are concerned. Quite simply, many gifted children learn little in schools that do not meet their pace or academic needs. Such children often end up teaching themselves. That is not how it should be - but it is the way it is.

The only other purpose of school is the social one - that of providing friends of a similar age for the gifted child. Yet, this too, may fail in the case of a gifted child. Yes, the friends will be of a similar age - but, it is usually the case that few of these friends will be able to provide intellectual stimulation for the gifted child - they will not be able to relate at the gifted child's level - though the gifted child may learn to relate to them on another level.

So, this is the dilemma of the gifted child: to go to school and learn little, but have friends of the same age - or to stay at home, learn much but have lesser access (in many cases) to friends of the same age. Neither situation is perfect - but, the latter certainly has greater potential, than many schools have, for meeting the needs of a gifted child. Social situations are easier to provide, than it is to transform a school into a welcoming intellectual environment, for the gifted child.

Every parent of a gifted child has to make a decision between conventional schooling or homeschooling. The decision is not easy - for though better in certain ways, the demands of homeschooling can be great on the parent new to it.

Yet, into the mix must always be placed the observation of my son, Ainan, above - at least for him - home is where most learning takes place. Though it shouldn't be the case, it is the case - and that is something I need to think about in the months and years ahead. Perhaps you do, too.

(If you would like to read more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eight months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and eight months, and Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, genetics, left-handedness, College, University, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:02 PM 


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