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, September 28, 2007

No Child Left Behind Act: Is Bush One?

Is President George W. Bush a child left behind? I can't help but wonder - for he characterizes to a great degree, the very children he espouses to support in his keystone educational legislation - the No Child Left Behind Act.

For those of my readers who are not American and do not know, the No Child Left Behind Act requires education authorities and schools to focus on the weaker children - to ensure that, "No Child is Left Behind". This may seem admirable, but has its downside. The effect is that all the more capable kids - that is, almost everyone else - gets ignored, to a greater or lesser degree. In other words, most kids in the American system suffer because of the No Child Left Behind Act. The aim of the schooling system is now to bring up the performance of the worst performers, which tends to lead to the better performers being ignored. Apparently, in many school systems, the lowest scorers improve - but how about everyone else? This matter is largely ignored.

Anyway, the reason I ask whether President George W. Bush is in fact a child left behind, himself, is because of something which happened on Wednesday and which was reported by Reuters.

At a televised event, surrounded by schoolchildren and in the presence of Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, he said: "As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured."

Wow. Children might learn, in such circumstances but, clearly, in the impoverished circumstances of President George W. Bush's own difficult upbringing, he didn't manage to learn basic English grammar.

Now, you might say this may be an isolated incident. But it isn't. The President's grammar is frequently original - but never insightful. He is capable of mistakes I have never heard any native speaker of English ever make - and he does it quite spontaneously - and with mind-numbing regularity. The Reuters report also noted that, the "education President" - as he thinks of himself, once asked: "Is our children learning?"

Probably not, if their President isn't and hasn't, either.

Now, President George W. Bush defends himself by saying that he was an average student at school and makes light of his tendency to mangle English grammar - but I think that poses deeper questions. He may have been an average student - but should an average student be leading a meritocratic nation? (Is America a meritocratic nation? If not, why not?)

Now I have no political opinion on Bush or any other President of America since I don't live there and am largely insulated against most of what they say and do - but I am able to make, therefore, fairly impartial observations.

Generally, a well-functioning brain does not make grammatical errors, on a regular basis, in the speaker's native language - at least, that is what I have observed in the course of my life. Does, therefore, the President of America not have a well-functioning brain? If he doesn't, surely he should.

Perhaps his intelligences are biased towards the non-verbal spheres of mental life. Sadly, I cannot illustrate any decisions, events or actions in favour of this view. Perhaps others can.

It may well be, that, mysterious as it seems, the President of America, George W. Bush is, in some ways, a child left behind. His No Child Left Behind Act, could be the work of a man who empathizes with these children who cannot keep up with their peers. Perhaps, in some way, George W. Bush cannot keep up with his own peers. He must daily be surrounded by his intellectual superiors, in his office. Perhaps that is the very source of his passion for the No Child Left Behind Act. It would seem apt.

Perhaps you, as a reader have some personal experience of the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act and might like to share them. Or maybe you have some insights into that most unusual of figures: the present President of the United States, George W. Bush - and a child left behind?.

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

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 6:05 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you aren't aware that President Bush attended Harvard...I highly doubt anyone who attends Harvard, even if he was just an "average" student there is at all left behind.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You are right, I didn't know that he had attended Harvard. The puzzle, therefore, has got all the greater. You see, Harvard has a certain reputation for academic acuteness - but no-one oversees sees that in President Bush, as far as I can tell. The general opinion in all the countries I have been to since he came to power (a handful) is that he is not very bright.

Attendance at Harvard normally requires a certain degree of intelligence - but perhaps it is like Cambridge, England in one respect. In the UK people who are not very bright - like the Royal family - can go to Cambridge without the requisite ability. Their connections and social prestige get them in. Perhaps it is the same with Harvard.

Another question arises: if he got into Harvard, by the normal method, was his grasp of English better in the past? In other words, has his English declined? If so, has his brain been damaged in any way? There are reports of substance abuse overseas regarding him in his youth - perhaps that is what did it for him.

He appears to be a man who is slow to understand the world. That is the impression he gives to the rest of the world.

Perhaps he dissembles. Perhaps he is much brighter than he appears. Perhaps it is politics that leads him to display this intellectual paucity - to win the common man over to him. That may be the case. But, internationally, that doesn't play well in many countries.

Like I said before, I have no political opinion on internal American matters - I only note that this President has trouble with sentence construction. The worry is, does that indicate deeper problems with thought construction?

I don't know the answer to that. It is likely that, neither do the American voters. Such things can be hidden by good manipulation of the media and the presence of adept advisers.

Thanks for your comment and information regarding his education.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for some time and I thought I would delurk since this is a topic I feel so strongly about.There are many Americans who feel that our president does not have the necessary intellectual prowess to perform the tasks required of him. Yes he got into Harvard, a fine institution, but his secondary school grades and standardized test scores were certainly not Ivy League caliber.His performance at Harvard was in fact well below average and he only barely graduated by at least the graduation standards set now if not then. (I'm speaking as an Ivy League graduate myself.)He received this honor solely because of his former-president father's connections. While there are many intelligent people out there who are not eloquent, I do agree that they do not make the grossly incompetent errors that President Bush does.Some of them can be accounted for by dialectical differences but by and large they are mistakes that even a child of 6 would not make regardless of native dialect. I would provide examples but I believe my post has already grown too long. Thanks for sharing the lives of your children with us.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for confirming the impression I received, overseas, from watching President Bush's antics.

I, too, agree that it is possible to be intelligent and not very verbal - but what this President has shown goes beyond the normal reach of such excuses.

Thank you for appreciating my blog.

Best wishes to you.

(Personally I think a President should be a genius - it is a pretty demanding job for an "average student".)

12:24 PM  
Blogger EbTech said...

American culture has become too anti-intellectual to elect geniuses to power...

5:33 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Perhaps that is one cause to be concerned about the future of America: the tendency to elect the "average student". Perhaps America really just wants to be an average country, deep in its conservative heart!

9:36 PM  

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