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, April 05, 2008

The ambition of Singaporean students.

I would like you to think what the most commonly stated ambition of a group of Singaporean scholar students might be. Consider the question as broadly as you like and genuinely give it some thought.

I ask this because my wife is teaching a group of "scholars" and asked them this question today. She was quite surprised by the answer that came back from almost all of them. Not for them, the big job and the flashy cars, not for them the global travel, wealth and fame. No. They wanted none of these things.

Do you know what this group of top students in Singapore professed their ambition to be?

"To sleep".

That just about says it all, for this particular educational system: poor things!

(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 @ 9:10 PM 


Blogger numbernine said...

I don't know whether you would characterise this as the Singapore education system pushing their people too hard, or a fatal lack of ambition.

To classify this as a Singaporean phenomenon seems particularly unfair when you think about the cram schools in Japan, the stories of parents in India putting their kids through impossible hoops, and books such as "The Overachievers" by Alexandra Robbins which talk about the (gasp) USA.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...


I draw on direct experience here, in Singapore, since I live here with my family. Thus, I feel able to comment with knowledge and insight on the Singaporean system. I don't, personally, have first hand knowledge of India, or Japan...though I have had some of the USA.

That this phenomenon happens elsewhere, does not invalidate the fact that it is happening, right now, in Singapore.

It is a Singaporean phenomenon...but that does not mean it might also be a phenomenon of some other countries.

Thank you for your comment. I shall look out for the book you have mentioned.

Kind regards

9:23 AM  

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