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, February 01, 2008

A lesson in economics for a child.

My childhood was not like my son's is turning out to be. For a start his is in a different country and this makes more difference than I had thought it would.

Today is an example. At school a circular was sent around to all the children. It was a slip of paper, rather oddly, containing economic information. It told these primary school children that prices were to rise in the school food outlets, "owing to the rise in the price of flour". I found this stupefying. Not even children are immune to economic alarm. Here they were being told a) their food prices were going to rise and b) a reason and justification for why this was to be. Amazing. I don't remember my childhood being like that. We were completely insulated from economic information. Maybe that is why we didn't all grow up being obsessed by money-making at the expense of any other social or human value.

I can see, now, why so many Singaporeans grow up to be concerned with money and money alone. The indoctrination that money is everything begins in primary schools with such subtle lessons as an economics lesson masquerading as a slip of paper.

I have had a good look back at my own childhood and I don't remember a single corresponding incident. However, this may be because in government schools in my childhood the food was free to all. There were no price rises because there was no price in the first place. It was regarded as a social boon that every child, no matter from what background, or however poor they might be, would receive at least one "good" meal a day. I say "good" because the food was, of course, of institutional quality.

It has taken my son's experience with this financial notice, from his school, to awaken me to how sheltered children in Britain were in the seventies and eighties, from economic realities. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, it depends what you value. If you value a child's peace of mind and ability to relax and enjoy the only period of their life that could reasonably be free from worry (if only we would let them be)...then I think it is best that children are not troubled by economic understanding. It would only add to their worries. However, if you wish to create a nation of people who begin to be concerned with money at the earliest possible age and who will go on to make it their primary concern throughout life - then, by all means, send little price rise notices and explanations around the school for the children to become economically awakened.

This method seems to work. I had a conversation about economics today with Ainan. (A very unusual occurrence.) He was rather surprised at the contents of the slip of paper and felt a need to discuss it with me.

The economic awakening has begun. To where will it lead?

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and seven months, and Tiarnan, two years exactly, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, 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 @ 10:20 PM 


Blogger Just Jen said...

I've never heard of such a thing. He will be fine because you didn't take it for granted and you two discussed it. He may learn responsibility over greed. That's the goal if you ask me!

11:52 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. It is best to always talk things through with one's children...that way you can guide the outcome and ensure that no lasting untoward impressions endure.

The question, of course, is: if the price of raw food materials has risen...should the resultant foods be subsidized so as not to pass on the price rises to the children?

There's a thought.

1:11 PM  

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