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, June 13, 2008

No freedom to play

Everyone likes to unwind - especially those whose jobs might be called, at best, unenviable.

Bangladeshi workers, in Singapore, are imported in their thousands to do the jobs that Singaporeans would never lower themselves to do. In return, these foreign workers get paid wages that would not be able to support them, in Singapore, were they not otherwise fed and housed. Indeed, their wages would not be able to support them in almost every country of the world.

Yet, people, everywhere, find resourceful ways to relax, in whatever free time they have - and make life more enjoyable. My wife tells me of a group of Bangladeshi workers that she heard about, who used to gather at the weekend, and play football in an open field, of no seeming use. Every weekend, they would enjoy this respite from their hard working lives: it was the highlight of their week. Until, one day, someone from officialdom came to them. They were told that they were not allowed to play football simply anywhere. They would have to pay. Football could not proceed until the proper fees had been paid. Indeed, they would have to secure a proper referee for their games - and he would have to receive a fee.

Now, these are Bangladeshi foreign workers on slave wages. They do not earn enough to be unconcerned about the cost of a referee. Suddenly, their weekly highlight was no more. They could no longer play football together - for they could not, in all reasonableness, pay what was demanded of them.

I was shocked by this. The lives of these workers are bad enough without taking away their primary means of leisure. Is it not enough that they are being exploited, by being paid far less than what a person doing a job like theirs is typically paid, worldwide? Construction work, and the like is WELL-PAID in most developed countries. In Singapore, it is most certainly not so, despite the rigours and dangers. At the very least, allow them to enjoy a game of football, to unwind: it is not much to ask.

I am puzzled that some Singaporeans think it is their place to interfere so much in the simple course of other peoples' lives. There is no harm in a game of football played between friends. It is most certainly not something to be regulated and controlled - and forced to pay fees (for which read "football tax"). A game of football is a natural pastime between young sporting men. No-one should attempt to interfere in that: to do so, is to delimit the lives of others for no other reason than that one wishes to delimit the lives of others.

I do not know on what basis the obvious attempt to stop the Bangladeshis playing football was made. If it is just an instance of a rule being made up specifically to thwart the Bangladeshis, then one has concerns of racist intent. If, on the other hand, it is, in fact, a general rule, applying to ALL games of football for which permission has not been applied, and fees not paid, then I am even more concerned. The playing of football is not a matter for official interference. Any rule which prevents the natural sporting play between informal groups of friends, is a rule that will stifle the development of a sporting culture. It should be stopped, at once.

A Bangladeshi worker has as much right to enjoy life, as a Singaporean banker, lawyer, or Minister. They should be left in peace to do so.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and five months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and ten months, and Tiarnan, twenty-seven months, 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, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:13 AM 


Blogger Miao said...

"If, on the other hand, it is, in fact, a general rule..."

If I'm not wrong, it is a general rule. A few years back, the parliament held a conference to discuss the fostering of creativity and non-academic talents in Singapore, and some of its contents were later published. One MP commented that if JK Rowling were born in Singapore, she wouldn't have established such a successful career as a writer. The government would just advise single mothers to get jobs as general clerks or secretaries, instead of forking out money to fund her writing endeavours. Another MP also remarked that Singapore would never nurture its own David Beckham, because nobody is allowed to play football on those grass patches that you see in HDB areas. This is an environment in which clear messages are being sent out to the public as well as our next generation that sports - and other non-academic talents, for that matter - are not feasible as career choices.

12:24 PM  

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