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 +

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The super puzzle solver of Singapore

A couple of months ago, Fintan got given one of those gifts that was more appropriate than we could possibly have thought. It was a Spiderman puzzle.

Now, we are not a household that goes in for conventional puzzles (of the broken image variety). I, for one, never found them particularly interesting. Thus, we haven't made any effort to ensure that our children were surrounded by them.

The puzzle was an interesting choice for Fintan, four, because he rather likes Spiderman (Fintan is a superhero expert). However, I was concerned to note that the puzzle was of many pieces, and all in dark colours with little contrast and few clues to allow each piece to be placed in its proper position. I didn't, therefore, hold out much hope for Fintan being able to do it. It seemed rather an unhelpful puzzle, actually.

I withheld my tongue, however, as an inner wish bid me to discourage him from even trying it. I let him proceed. He scattered the puzzle pieces everywhere and then set about reassembling them.

I was feeling thirsty so I went to get a cup of tea.

A few minutes later I returned. The puzzle was done. Fintan had finished it.

I was somewhat startled to see this, since I, for one, had not expected anyone to be able to do the puzzle at all easily, given its problems in design, already spoken of, above - but somehow, Fintan, who was ever an observant child, saw enough in it, to get it done very quickly indeed.

I congratulated him - and looked with some puzzlement at the wholeness of the dark image he presented me with.

Fintan has not been weaned on puzzles. Yet, somehow he is most adept at them. Again, he has shown us surprising resources where visual tasks are concerned.

Of course, those tasks which require visual skill - such as Art - are not popular or well supported here in Singapore. We shall have to find our own ways of ensuring that his native gifts are developed accordingly.

The next time I see a puzzle which looks inordinately complicated, with few visual cues as to how to complete it, I know just what to do with it: give it to Fintan.

(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 @ 2:14 PM 


Blogger Just Jen said...

my nephew was the same way. he did puzzles upsidedown because they were 'to easy with the picture.'
He has an iq of 147 last count. (he's 27 now) So never underestimate the puzzle! my other nephew (his brother) does 3D puzzles of mass proportions. Some of them have thousands of pieces and he can do them in a couple of days. Here in Canada, puzzles are almost
My boys have absolutely no interest in the conventional puzzle. They both enjoy math puzzles or words puzzles or things like that. Problem solving skills are perfected in puzzles. If he likes them that much, you can give him old cereal boxes and let him cut out and make his own puzzles. :D

4:53 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the encouragement and suggestion.

It is good to see a positive indication of how kids interested in puzzles turn out.

All the best to your puzzling boys!

10:25 PM  

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