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 +

Monday, December 10, 2007

Does Japan have a future?

Does Japan have a scientific future?

You may think this a strange question to ask since Japan, presently, has the world's second largest research industry (after the United States) and is known as a technological powerhouse, in commercial terms, at least. Yet, all is not as well as it seems.

The recent PISA comparative survey of the abilities of 15 year olds in 57 countries worldwide held some warnings for the possible future of Japan. If the results are any indication, Japan seems to be in decline. Japan's mathematical results were disappointing: they came in 10th, showing a steady decline over the past few years - having been 6th in 2003 and 1st in 2000.

That is not the worst of it, however. Japan fell to 6th place in science, having been 2nd in the two previous PISA surveys. That, in itself, may not seem particularly worrying - but another piece of information obtained from the thousands of students who took part is. Almost NONE of them want to be scientists. Only 7.8 per cent of Japanese students expected to be in a scientifically related career by the age of 30. This was by far the LOWEST scientific ambition of the youngsters out of all 57 countries. If young Japanese don't want to enter scientific careers, there will soon come a time in which there just won't be a Japanese science base.

It seems, from other information, that young Japanese are aiming for financial careers, instead. This doesn't bode well, however, in a technological and scientific era, that promises to become even more strongly technological and scientific as the decades pass and new technologies mature - such as nanotechnology and its associate, nanomedicine. Such technologies require a strong science base to sustain. It looks as if Japan is in grave danger of not having such a base by the time such technologies mature.

In contrast, the United States, while it came in the bottom half of the table, in Science, in terms of the abilities of its 15 year olds, actually, and surprisingly, came 3rd in terms of the AMBITION of its students. Many of them want to be in a scientific career at the age of 30 (even if most of them are not actually showing much ability at the age of 15). However, no matter what the ability of the students, without the wish to be a scientist, that ability will never translate into a scientific outcome.

Thus Japan has scientific ability, but no scientific aspiration, in its youth. America is in the opposite position, at present. Oddly, I think there is rather more promise in America's situation - since at least whatever ability there is, may actually translate into a scientific base, in the decades to come.

There are many problems in Japanese education, not least of which is the lack of investment in science. Apparently, the budget for science experiments in elementary school is 40 cents per student. It is no wonder that students are lucky to get to see any science in action at all. The results of this short-sightedness are beginning to show.

By the looks of it, the technological Japan of today, is staring ahead to a much less heady future.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and no months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and five months, and Tiarnan, twenty-two 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 @ 11:04 PM 


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