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 +

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The flipside of reservation in the classroom.

There is a flipside to my previous post which I think I should explore.

Society can be most unkind to those it needs most. No-one is more necessary to the future progress of society than its most gifted members - yet, how are those gifted people, young and old, treated in the world's societies?

Well, many a gifted child finds out, quite quickly, through harsh social feedback that, in many societies, being gifted is about as acceptable as being a leper. The more outstanding a child, the more they tend to find that they are not accepted. Of course, there will be exceptions. There will be schools and perhaps even societies that are more welcoming but, in general, this is a global truism.

Ainan has learnt discretion. He has learnt to keep quiet with his thoughts, his observations, his knowledge, in a social setting. He has, it seems, absorbed the lesson that, to stand out, is to be excluded.

This is not as it should be. No gifted child should fear to be themselves and show themselves in public - yet, in so many parts of the world, they are. Giftedness is often something to be masked, to be hidden, to be denied, so that the gifted child might blend in and be accepted. Of course, in doing that, the gifted child is dying, day by day: they are denying themselves and, in so doing, are also destroying themselves. In time, they may forget who they once were. By submerging their gifts, over time, they may lose ready access to them. A child who doesn't express their gifts, is a child who is not developing them, either. The day may come when they truly do blend in - and what kind of victory is that? Their acceptance has been at the price of their true self.

No child, anywhere in the world, should have to hide who they are. I understand that that is an ideal statement that has little hope of being met by the reality of the world we live in, as it is today but, in time, the world may change. One day, the gifted children might be accepted as they are, in all classes, of all schools, in all aspects of life, in all nations, everywhere. I would like to see that world - but I may not live long enough to do so. Such deep change is slow to take hold in the world.

I coined a word, long ago, on this blog: "Giftism". I would say that Giftism is the last prejudice that still seems to be socially acceptable. It is time that it was no longer accepted.

Every gifted child should be free to be themselves, everywhere. They should not need to consider what is socially discrete - nor what is likely to win friends or lose them. They should just simply be allowed to be, free of any social encumbrance, hindrance or penalty.

Wouldn't that be a better world, than the one my son is adjusting to, in his ever-so-discrete way?

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eleven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and four months, and Tiarnan, twenty-one months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, 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 @ 11:39 PM 


Blogger Jonas said...

This is so difficult as it is to admit. I have become almost silent around those that I don't personally know. It got to the point when somebody would ask me a question or opinion, and I would act as if I didn't understand or just didn't know for fear of how I'd be viewed for having the answer or my very opinionated point of view.

My first question was answered...

3:15 AM  
Blogger EbTech said...

"Giftism" is only our side of the story. I believe the problem is more fundamental and widespread. Too often do societies shun those who deviate from the norm, especially those who they cannot understand. I do not see why people are so reluctant to embrace each others' differences. Without them, it would be a boring world.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Good point, EbTech. More fundamentally, "Giftism" is about the refusal to accept difference - it is about the demand for uniformity. I will tell you this, having lived in Singapore (which rather loves uniformity) that uniformity is, as you suspect, very boring. The more diverse the world and its people, the more interesting it is.

Thanks for your comment.

10:58 AM  

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