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 +

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's official: the Gifted Education Programme

In the middle of this week, we had a meeting at Ainan's school regarding him. Present were a panel of six people. These included his Principal and Vice-Principal and two officers from the Gifted Education Programme, a Government department devoted to seeking out and assisting gifted children. Until this moment, we had had no contact with this Department and had only heard gossip about how they work and what they do.

We sat in the boardroom of the school for two hours discussing Ainan. Firstly, he was officially acknowledged as being an appropriate addition to the programme. Then much was spoken of other examples of how the Programme had helped various gifted children over the years. It was all news to me. These children are few and so I suppose one hears little of what is actually done.

This meeting was, I feel, more of an interview of the parents, than a discussion of Ainan. Our every word was judged and weighed as the Government representatives tried to decide what sort of parents we were and what sort of challenges Ainan might face, perhaps, as a result.

One worry that did occur to me is that they seemed to be thinking in terms of a general idea of giftedness at this stage - that of the "globally gifted" child who is good in all things. I think this was their implicit ideal. I am uncertain, at this stage, how much understanding they actually have of prodigious children, with their domain-specific focus, since these children are much rarer than the general body of gifted children that they deal with, in the main. Ainan does show "global gift", but he also shows prodigious scientific precocity - and has no interest in anything outside science apart from, perhaps, Art (and Music once upon a time). Other academic subjects seem to hold little sway over him.

They have proposed that Ainan undergo another layer of testing to decide what intervention might be necessary. He is to meet a chemistry specialist to have a scientific discussion with a view to gathering more information on Ainan's scientific gift and understanding. That meeting will be used to decide any next steps.

To me all of this seems slow. Each stage successfully passed, seems only to open up another stage of assessment and decision-making. Meanwhile, Ainan suffers from the chronic boredom of an inappropriate schooling environment. Let us hope, therefore, that something good comes of all this soon.

I have a worry however. If Ainan doesn't like the scientist assigned to meet him, he will cut the scientist out completely, and just ignore him. He would do this, too, if he detected any scepticism, or criticism from the person (I don't know if the scientist is to be male or female). Basically, if the assigned chemist is not good at building rapport with seven year old children, he will get nothing out of Ainan at all. That could "put a spanner in the works".

Despite this, I suppose it is a victory of sorts, to have begun to engage the interest of a body that might have the power to give Ainan access to a more suitable education. We will just have to see how open-minded they are, and how flexible they will be in approaching the education of an unusual child. I am hoping that they won't just have a cookie cutter grade acceleration type approach. Ainan needs something rather more than that - and more specific, too. We will learn more next week, when the next stage of assessment begins.

(If you would like to learn more about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and two months, or his gifted brothers, please just go to: I also write of gifted education, intelligence, IQ, 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 @ 5:49 PM  0 comments

Friday, February 09, 2007

Where have all the geniuses gone?

There is one thing most geniuses have in common: they are all dead.

Now, clearly more people have lived in the past than are now alive, so one can expect there to be more historical geniuses than living ones: that is an obvious thought, but behind the provocativeness of my opening sentence, there lies an uncomfortable truth. Where are all the geniuses of today? There don't appear to be all that many.

Jason Jones in a comment beneath my previous post, asked whether society was against genius - and, in doing so, chimed well with a thought I have nurtured lifelong. The modern world is, to its very core, inimical to genius. Yet, it has not always been so.

Today, we have schools in which students are expected to learn an ever growing body of knowledge. Most societies expect their students to master this material as they grow up - and, on the surface, this might be seen to be a good thing. It could be if it were done right. Yet, in most societies the student is left with little or no room for their own thought. Their own thought is, in fact, punished by the system and marked down. Variation in answers is not accepted: only the textbook answer is sought.

I have taught in schools in Singapore and I have seen this attitude very clearly among the staff. I was explicitly instructed to create model answers for all essays I set in English Literature and mark the students' work against my own. The expectation of a conformist answer is, therefore, explicitly laid out to the staff, by the educational system. What would happen to an original answer in such a context? It would differ from the model answer, it may in fact cover none of the points expected in the model answer and would receive low marks accordingly. What lesson would the student take away from this? He or she would have been punished for thinking for themselves and would learn that to give an answer other than the expected, is to fail. Success is achieved through conformity to the teacher's requirement. Over time, the impulse to be original would fade in such a student, as the years passed, the impulse would no longer even be a memory and the capacity for original thought itself will have been lost through deliberate disuse. A creative person would have been quietly extinguished. That is what conformist education systems do to creativity.

It is only the potential genius who combines great creativity with a hard, resistant, stubborn, anti-authoritarian character that just will not be put down, that could survive a lifetime of such treatment. Perhaps that is why many geniuses have such a character: they are the ones who have survived the "system". However, perhaps many more, with gentler characters will have been destroyed.

In the classes I taught, it was very noticeable that most of the students were unable to think for themselves. I was teaching the equivalent of eleventh and twelfth grades, at the time, in the main - and by this time, all signs of creativity, had there ever been any, had been eroded from almost all the students. Very frequent, were the cries of "but you haven't told us what to write", or similar remarks. I tried to teach them to think, actively, but most of them were past the point at which they could even make an effort to do so, so foreign was it to their nature. I think the greatest lesson was learnt by the teacher, in that class: conformity in education, leads to the death of minds. I also learnt another lesson: any effort to encourage thinking in those who have learnt to be passive and unexpressive, will be opposed. Thus, at some point, the damage done by conformist education is irreparable, so engrained will their unthinking habits be.

There are many famous people hailed as "geniuses" by the press. Yet, any clearsighted examination of such people leads to an awkward conclusion: they don't appear to have much talent beyond that of achieving media coverage. I could name names in support of this statement, but I would only get sued for telling an obvious truth about them, so I won't. I am sure that anyone who thinks for themselves can identify such empty "talents". Where, then, are all the true geniuses?

I hope that they are out there, somewhere, living lives that haven't yet caught our attention. Yet, why should they want to catch our attention? Such people would have been unwelcome in many school systems, punished for their originality, thought of as "odd" by conformist students, unbefriended for being different, resented, perhaps, by many of the more insecure teachers, when they ask questions that the teacher cannot answer. This ostracization can continue into the work place, where their questioning of the way things are, can soon find them out of a job. Anyone who is truly thinking for themselves will find this world can be a very unfriendly place - for new thoughts have a habit of disturbing entrenched ones, and that makes people uncomfortable and resentful.

Oscar Wilde remarked that: "Genius can do anything but make a living." He probably meant that they are not inclined to work on lesser activities, preferring to work in their special domain, at the expense of a good living. Yet, there is another aspect, too: most organizations do not make way for geniuses to work. The managers are conformists, the whole structure is conformist - and the genius is seen as someone who "doesn't fit". It is not long before the genius, who could contribute so much to the organization, is out of favour, of most organizations.

Perhaps there are as many true geniuses as there ever used to be - but I have the feeling that it is not so. They are, at least, swamped by the deluge of over-hyped talentless mediocrities presented as "geniuses" to us. The label "genius" is over-used today, creating a plethora of fake "geniuses" whose only real gift to the world is their own egos. Genius is even used to describe people whose only qualification is an IQ test result, which as pointed out in my many posts about IQ, in fact says nothing about the capacity to create - which is the cornerstone of true genius.

Today, genuine genius receives little welcome in the world. It is unwanted and misunderstood in the classroom. It finds far from a good reception in most work places. It is even isolated socially by those who around who simply won't allow themselves to understand and accept the genius' viewpoint. It is difficult for a genius to find the time and the resources to work on their ideas, since if the idea is new it will probably be thought of as, "off-the-wall" and, therefore, not supported by the common grant giving bodies. Most of those seek to fund that which is clearly applicable, readily grasped, and relatively free of risk. Few funding sources will support anything that seems in the least outre. Genius, as a whole, has a very hard time in the modern world.

As I said at the beginning, it wasn't always so. In Ancient Greece, genius had a place and welcome, in the most part (forgetting the fate of Socrates). There was a flourishing of thought, with the pre-Socratic philosophers beginning the systematic task of understanding the world, inventing philosophy and natural science in the process on through Plato and Aristotle, who became great influences for the next two thousand years of Humanity. In that time, a man of thought was respected indeed, and had a high place in the society. It is doubtless no coincidence that it was in Greece that modern scientific thought began: for there genius was welcome.

Another time that welcomed genius was the Renaissance. Italy abounded with great men and their great deeds - each sponsored readily by a patron, in a time when patrons competed to sponsor great artists and thinkers to allow them to pursue their work. That time of largesse gave the world some of its greatest art and works of human thought. Culture, science and society all burgeoned as one. Why? Because genius was accepted.

Now, we live in times when genius, in fact, receives a hostile reception, for the most part and in most places and societies - no matter what those societies say about themselves and their attitude to "talent". Therein lies the confusion. "Talent" is not genius. It is a much lesser breed. Talent is understandable. Talent is inoffensive since talent is just beyond the horizon. Yet, genius, true genius, remains beyond comprehension - and in most places unsupported. It is time for a return to the patronage of the Renaissance, for the acceptance of genius and for another time of great men, great deeds - and a great society, as a result.

Will it happen? Looking at the way the world is, I doubt it. Modern people would rather bring a genius down than raise them up. Yet, what does raising up a genius achieve? It raises the whole society that enabled the genius to work productively. We all benefit when the greatest among us are able to produce the greatest works that their minds are capable of.

So, if you have it in your power to help a genius, you should. For in doing so, you are helping the whole world become a better, deeper, richer place. That was the spirit of the Renaissance. I would very much like to see that spirit live again.

(If you would like to read of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and two months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, three, Tiarnan, twelve months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, intelligence, IQ, 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 @ 10:05 AM  2 comments

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Who is a genius?

My last post tried to improve the understanding of what IQ is, but as my long term readers will know, IQ is not entirely what it is taken to be.

I would like you to consider two people. One tested at an IQ of 180 and, in every instance, his or her answer was a model answer, being exactly what was stipulated in the test requirements. The second person scored an IQ of 140. One of them is a genius...who is it?

Most people would have little difficulty in pointing at the person of an IQ of 180 as the genius. Yet, the likelihood is that they are wrong. You see IQ, as stated below is a measure of the speed with which a person can solve problems of a convergent nature - that is problems with one answer. Yet, as I have noted several times in my blog, a genius requires a different skill. A genius must be able to produce new answers, to questions that haven't been answered before. A genius must be able to think of many possibilities and consider their merits to decide the best answer. A genius must be able to ask questions no-one else has asked before. None of these traits are captured by what IQ measures.

I have been a little naughty in my description of these two people, for I have with-held one piece of information. You see the person whose IQ was 140 gave a lot of answers which were reasonable, imaginative, and profound - but were NOT the prefixed answers expected by the test setter. Therefore the individual was marked wrong, for many test items. Yet, the fact is, that the subject's answers were interesting and reasonable and could be argued to be a good answer to the question. The problem with this style of answering is that it is penalized by tests which seek a single answer. What kind of answers are the 140 IQ candidates? They are CREATIVE answers. They are answers that embody conceptual novelty, that show new insight into the problems. This kind of answer is never rewarded by IQ tests. IQ tests seek conformity of thought.

So, even though the IQ 180 candidate got a higher score; this candidate showed conformity of thought, with expectation: there was no deviation from the norm. The IQ 140 candidate showed a lot of originality of thought, all of it penalized by the test format. Who, therefore is the genius? This analysis guides us to understand that the ostensibly lower candidate is showing creativity; the higher one is not. Therefore it is the lower candidate who has revealed the stuff of genius in the way he or she took the test. Yet, the score is lower. This is one major problem in the interpretation of IQ tests. A given person may have a lower score, but actually a higher creativity than another person. The one with the lower score has more chance of a being a genius in these circumstances.

What about someone who gets a very high score but who is a real world genius? This is possible, but ONLY if the person taking the test deliberately answers according to expectation. By this I mean the genius test subject would have to suppress their originality and answer in a way they thought would be expected. If they showed their originality they would lose marks and get a lower score. In this way, IQ tests are biased AGAINST genius, in the sense of its manifestation as creativity.

All that can be said of the highest scorers is that they have proven themselves to be faster than others at problem solving in convergent, closed situations, that don't have open answers. They may be geniuses, but it is likely that most of them will not be - for the reason that creativity is punished by IQ tests, not rewarded.

IQ has a real world importance in allowing us to distinguish who will be a good convergent problem solver - and who would be good in time critical roles. But it does not denote who is a genius. That is much harder to divine.

Obviously different people may arrive at an IQ in different ways. Two people may score 140. One may have answered in perfect conformity to expectation and may be at the limit of their performance. The other may have answered creatively and reduced their score result by 60 points as a result. If his or her creative responses had been accepted as valid, they may have scored an IQ of 200. Generally, no tester will make the effort to distinguish them and decide the matter. In this way, a genius may be overlooked.

The answer to "Who is a genius?" is very difficult. It requires that the creativity of the subjects be measured and not their brute thinking power alone. Brute thinking power, on its own, does not create anything new - though it does answers questions quickly - which in many real life roles is of great importance.

In understanding issues surrounding IQ, genius and giftedness, it is vital to understand what things really mean. As usual, the argument and observations above are my own and I am entirely responsible for their contents, creative and otherwise.

(If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and two months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, three and Tiarnan, twelve months, please go to: I also write of child prodigy, gifted education, child genius, adult genius, baby genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:55 AM  10 comments

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What good is a high IQ?

Everyone in the developed world is aware of the term IQ. There is a certain mystique attached to the concept. Somehow, in a single number, is embodied a substance known as "intelligence". I use the word "substance" deliberately, for the way people speak of it, it is as if it is some concretely measurable, verifiable thing that is present in a person in varying quantities. At least, that is the common view of this magic number.

Yet what, practically speaking, does IQ mean? I intend not to look at the common way of regarding it, which is a measure of rarity in the population, but in a practical sense. What real life difference does IQ make to a person?

There are two practical facets I wish to look at, two which are relatively little known. Firstly, when given a problem to solve and the time taken to complete the problem is measured, research has shown that a 10 point drop in IQ corresponds to a DOUBLING of the time taken to complete the problem. That fact needs some consideration before we move on.

What does a doubling in the time to solve a problem mean for an IQ drop of 10 points? Well, think of it this way: with a 10 point drop, the time taken is double; with a 20 point difference, the time taken is four times; with a 30 point drop it is eight times; and so on. This difference can become truly huge for large differences in IQ. If there is a 100 point drop, the difference in time is 1,024 times. (This assumes, of course, that the relationship holds across all levels of human IQ - but that is the only assumption being made for this to be true.)

It is easy to understand how this is so if we compare the problem solving skills of a person with "genius IQ" and someone who is subnormal, say comparing an IQ of 150 with an IQ of 50. It would be no surprise at all if it took a 1,000 times longer for the person of 50 IQ to solve a problem which challenged the genius.

This has very real practical implications and allows us to better understand the meaning of IQs in a real way. Someone with a higher IQ than someone else will, generally, solve a particular problem more quickly. If the IQ difference is huge, the time to solve can be very different indeed. In the real world, given our finite lifetimes and shortage of time in general, this can mean that, practically speaking, even if the person of lower IQ would eventually solve the problem, that they won't: there simply won't be the time. In a time critical job, like air traffic controller, or stock trader, or surgeon, a higher IQ can be the difference between success and failure, profit and loss, life and death.

I want you to think about this again: a person of IQ 200, can solve problems a thousand times faster than the average person. (Obviously we would have to use a hard enough problem to see the difference, at work: something easy for both levels of intelligence would not distinguish them.)

There is another difference in problem solving revealed by IQ. Any given problem of fixed difficulty will be open to solution by a spread of IQs. What differs is the chance of the problem being solved. At the lower IQs the chance of a solution is correspondingly less, until at a certain fixed IQ, NO-ONE below that IQ can solve the problem. At the other end, there is an IQ above which EVERYONE solves the problem.

This again has real world applications. If you have a hard problem to solve, there will be a minimum IQ required to solve it, below which no-one can do so, no matter how much time they have to do so. It should also be noted that for very high IQs almost all real world problems will be susceptible to their intelligence, and readily solved.

I think this way of looking at IQ is much more valuable for understanding what they mean, than the conventional one of looking at rarity. It tells us in a very real way, what can be expected of people of different IQ levels, in practical terms.

(If you would like to learn about Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and two months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, three, and Tiarnan, twelve months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, baby genius, savant, the creatively gifted, savant, gifted adults, and gifted children in general. Thanks)


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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:52 PM  4 comments

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Practical and Gifted

There is the stereotype, propagated by most educational systems, that there is a strict division between being practical and being gifted. I will speak of Singapore's division of these two types of people.

In Singapore, there is an academic stream and a "normal technical" stream. In common parlance, the academic stream is understood to be more "intelligent" than the "normal technical" stream. Indeed, there is a national stigma attached to the "normal technical" stream. These children are viewed as being somehow impaired, of not being competent in dealing with mentally challenging tasks. The distinction is almost a class distinction: the "normal technical" being somehow a lower class of being than the academic streams. I am uncomfortable with this idea and this perception.

The academic stream is further subdivided into two: the classes almost everyone attends and then the "gifted education" programmes for the top 1 % or so. There is a further division of perception to go along with this, with those in the gifted programme (which doesn't begin until the age of 10 or so, and is not anywhere near as comprehensive as it needs to be to address the issue, despite its name), being seen as an elite.

Children in the normal technical stream are required to learn practical skills. Their subject matter suit them to being technicians, in the main, given the technological bias of this culture, but the same concept applied in other cultures would apply to all those whose education is more "hands-on" with the intention to enter some practical trade.

The division continues into the tertiary sphere, with a split between practical Polytechnics and theoretical Universities. In general, the highest positions in the working world, are taken by University graduates - and so this division permeates the whole of society.

Yet, is there wisdom in this division? Does it correspond to a true split in human nature? Are the practically inclined, and the theoretically inclined (some of whom would be "gifted") forever to be apart? Can one person be both?

In short, yes. You see it is clear to me that Ainan, my scientific child prodigy son, is as practically gifted as he is theoretically gifted. He is not only able to understand the most difficult of scientific concepts, able to learn the most detailed and difficult of scientific material, able to invent, predict, intuit and infer but he is also able to make very complex objects, to design experiments, to engage with the world in practical terms. If you just saw Ainan doing things, hands-on, as he does everyday, you would conclude that he was one of the practical, hands-on types of children. You would be unsurprised to hear that he wished to do something practical with his life - something which involved making things. Yet, another person, who had seen him in a more theoretical mode, posing scientific questions, solving problems, predicting outcomes and the like, would conclude that he would only be suited for the most abstract of scientific pursuits and a University education. Both observers would be right - and both observers would be wrong. Ainan is a synthesis of the practical and the theoretical and it is this union of disparate modes of thinking and doing which could hold the greatest promise for him, in terms of a scientific career. For what does this natural division correspond to between the practical and the theoretical? It is between the scientific experimenter and the scientific theorist. Ainan straddles these two worlds, uniting both in one mind.

I would be unsurprised to see him active in both experimentation and theorizing, in times to come - for that would just be an adult development of the child I see today.

It is artificial, therefore, to divide children into the practical and the theoretical (or "gifted") for some children, at least, if Ainan is any guide, will be both. It would be wrong, therefore, to force them to choose between these dispositions by dividing the education system into the practical and theoretical streams. There must be a way for some children to inhabit both. Such children promise to contribute, in an interesting, perhap unique, fashion to the society that enables them to flourish.

(If you would like to read more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and two months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, three, or Tiarnan, twelve months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, baby genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children, in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:12 PM  2 comments

Parliament answers

On checking my mail, after my last post, I discovered an email from the Minister I had written to.

His reply began: "Congratulations on having such an outstanding son..." and then went on to say that he had asked the Ministry of Education to review our son's circumstances and discuss his future with us.

So, another little step forward has been made: let us now see how long it takes the Ministry to respond and what their response will be. If they do make some accommodation for Ainan, it will be the first time that I know of, that they have done so, for any child. There is no tradition of flexibility in educational provision here, so what is being asked is very unusual. I have no idea whether and to what degree, they will make way for Ainan. I rather hope that they do open a path for him, for he is ready to run very far along it, given the chance to do so.

(If you would like to read more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and two months, and his gifted brothers Fintan, three and Tiarnan, twelve months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, baby genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:06 AM  0 comments

Monday, February 05, 2007

A letter to Parliament

In Singapore, the nomenclature for politicians is styled after Britain, which used to be its colonial ruler. Thus, the first rung of political power is the Member of Parliament, then above that are Ministers of various ranks, and the Prime Minister, at the top.

Ainan needs an educational provision out of the norm. We don't know quite where to get it but are trying several avenues simultaneously. One avenue is to write to the Ministry of Education to seek permission to homeschool - that is covered below in First Steps to Homeschooling. The other approach is to write to our local Member of Parliament (M.P.).

On the same day that we wrote to the Compulsory Education Unit, we also wrote to our local MP, who happens to be a Government Minister. The Compulsory Education Unit replied within three hours, our MP, though, has yet to reply.

Again, we will see how responsive Singapore is to the particular needs of its citizens. Ainan could do good things for Singapore science, one day. Let us see if Singapore will do anything to help him get there. If not, of course, there is always the whole wide world to go searching for what he needs, to advance. First, however, we will exhaust the local options, for that is the easiest to approach, initially. If those prove satisfactory, then we shall have succeeded on his behalf, but if they don't, then we will be forced to look elsewhere.

Ainan is developing fast, so we need to address his educational future very soon. That is why we are trying several approaches simultaneously, in the hope that at least one will improve his situation.

(If you would like to read more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, seven years and two months and his gifted brothers, Fintan, three, and Tiarnan, twelve months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, baby genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:34 PM  2 comments

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tiarnan the baby "mountaineer"

I used to know a mountaineer: two in fact. They both shared the ideal that something should be climbed because they hadn't climbed it yet. They couldn't see a vertical challenge without itching to try it. I don't know the fate of both, but I know the fate of one: he left Oxford with a double starred First in Physics (that kind of means that you are brighter than God), then joined a famous firm as a Strategic Consultant of some kind. He then went on a mountain climbing holiday, at the age of 22. For reasons that may never be known, he managed to lose his footing, his grip or both - and fell 600 feet to his death. He was one of the brightest people I ever met. I rather wish he hadn't been a climber, though.

Anyway, such stories can only exacerbate parental worries. You see Tiarnan, twelve months, loves to climb. Today I took him to the playground and let him do something he has long been itching to do: climb up the vertical slides from the bottom. He had no trouble at all with this task, climbing the several metres of each slide, on his hands and knees, quite quickly. Since this was the first time I had let him do this, I was quite surprised at his facility. One slide was straight up and down, diagonally, the other was a spiral, but neither presented any difficulty.

Yesterday, he did something even more dangerous. He climbed up a ladder, all the way to the top and stood there, imbued with a sense of triumph. Needless to say, I stood behind him lest he fall, since I was curious about how far he would try to go. Again, he had no trouble with the task, despite it being the first time he has ever climbed a ladder. (I put it away after seeing him do that, because, of course, he would do it when I wasn't around, given the chance.)

Last week, he began to do something else which is enough to worry any parent: he climbed into his high chair from the floor and sat down in it. He has done it several times since. His method speaks of much upper body strength for his size, for what he does is hold onto the top of the chair from the ground and pull himself up until he can hook his leg over the top of the chair and then drags himself up. Not many adults would be able to do the manouevre, owing to a lack of the requisite arm strength, and a lack of the requisite flexibility to raise the leg above the head, to do so. He is quite a little athlete. It should be noted that, in his chair, there are no intermediate struts between ground level and chair level: so he cannot step up into it, he must haul himself up.

Tiarnan is not a thick set child, but he is of quite an athletic build, not large, but efficiently built. He is not tubby at all, in the way that many babies are.

Of course, this hobby of his presents us with a problem: to make sure he never tries to climb anything beyond his skill. It is true to say that Tiarnan requires more attention, at this age, than the other two children put together. I am half-hoping he will grow out of this habit: or are we to watch him climb ever taller objects as he gets older - making us ever more worried?

(If you would like to read more of Tiarnan, twelve months, Ainan, seven years and two months, a scientific child prodigy, or Fintan, three, please go to: I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, baby genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:08 PM  0 comments

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