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, July 12, 2008

Teaching a hamster to read.

There has been a new addition to our household, recently: a hamster. Well, there were two, but now there is one - but that is another story.

Tiarnan, two, is particularly taken by his new furry friend. He likes to reach into the cage and stroke the little one (who is busily trying to run away, of course). Nevertheless, Tiarnan usually persists until he can "sayang" the hamster. (That is: "show affection").

On the 10th July 2008, he did something particularly sweet. He had been playing with the hamster, when a thought occurred to him. He ran into his brothers' bedroom and came out with a book - on hamster rearing. He flipped through the pages until he had found a photo of a hamster the same colour as ours. Then he turned the book around and showed the photo to the scampering hamster.

"Look," he said, to the hamster, softly, "The same."

The hamster duly looked and he was satisfied. Of course, what the hamster thought of the giant photo of a hamster just like herself, we will never know. Tiarnan, however, was happy to have related his understanding to his little friend. She couldn't talk, he had observed, but surely she could see a photo?

Communication is difficult at the best of times - but interspecies communication is more difficult still. However, that hasn't stopped Tiarnan from having a go. He is doing his best to communicate to the very small furry animal that likes to run about alot and eats health food. At least, that is the way it looks to Tiarnan.

I will have to write more of the effect of the little pet on our household, we have had her for about a week and a half. It is good for the children - especially Tiarnan and Fintan - for the first thing they do in the morning is rush to have a look at what the little one is up to. Tiarnan calls her "baby". It is all very sweet. We should have got a pet long ago, looking now at how they respond.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight 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 @ 8:45 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> how is it possible to teach students who don't know how to measure the quality of what is being imparted?

i think you have to accept where the child is where s/he is, exactly how s/he is at the time. that early acceptance is crucial for that child to accept him/herself all throughout life. in my own experience, other peoples' expectations, assumptions, agendas, ideas and aspirations have a funny way of "imprinting" onto the child early on if s/he is discredited.

the quality though in question, is subjective. the teacher may mean one thing, but the child sees what s/he can.

colored socks are quality to a little girl. maybe she didn't have colored socks and wanted them.

we have to trust as educators that all beings have their own way of measuring quality and that this may evolve over time into even "more" of who that person really is.

the first thing is to accept the child as is.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

This comment should be on the post after this one...the one on What Makes a Favourite Teacher.

Anyway, I fully agree with the idea of acceptance of the child (within certain acceptance of extreme violence for instance). However, you missed the point of my post a bit. The "little girl" from China was not a little girl at all, but a young adult in her early twenties. That is what really shocked me. She had had plenty of living time to come to an understanding of the world and its people and how to judge what they did. She chose the colour of their socks as a guideline: amazing.

Best wishes

8:12 AM  
Blogger Eaststopper said...

Try asking the question in Chinese. Maybe she will give you a different answer.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

With some, Eaststopper, your point had relevance, but I am certain that she was well able to understand the question - so it doesn't come down to linguistic difficulty at all - just to what she judged to be important in the evaluation of others.

Best wishes

9:09 PM  

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