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 +

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back to School: Ainan's welcome.

Yesterday, Ainan went back to school, after resting a few days at home, owing to his broken arm. His welcome was instructive for what it said about the nature of the various people.

His school friends were very curious about his arm. He was assailed by questions all around of what had happened to him. All were keen to know every detail. That is a natural reaction - and one that showed that, in their childish way, they cared about Ainan and what had obviously befallen him.

The reactions of his teachers were altogether different but even more revealing. Not ONE teacher in his school enquired after his arm. Not ONE showed any interest in learning what had happened to him, or how he was. Incredibly, they had another concern: his hair. Three teachers, on different occasions, approached him, not with the intent to sympathize or enquire after his health - but to order him to do one thing: "Cut your hair, it is too long!", they said, as if each was reading from the same script. Perhaps they were, the script called MOE "teacher" training 101, "How to oppress the little people and make a big deal out of nothing, on a daily basis."

My wife and I were both somewhat surprised at the priorities of the teachers concerned. Part of the teacher's role in life - and an important part - is the physical and emotional well-being of their student charges. A teacher who had those priorities right would, in every instance, first enquire about Ainan's broken arm. They would not ever consider the state of his hair. It amazes me, in particular, that the concern for the hair should have been the common concern of all three teachers who spoke to him - and that not one did the human thing of enquiring after his arm. Their behaviour proves that these teachers do not understand what their priority as teachers should be: the well-being of their students.

For a hot country, Singapore can be remarkably cold at times.

(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 @ 10:59 PM 


Anonymous KS said...

And what happened when the same teachers realised that it was his writing hand that was affected? Was their response, "no problem, lah. Can write with right hand. Might be slower, but can."

It is a shame that your son had this response. I remember how eager we were to sign our names and draw pictures on our friends' plasters!

5:25 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I don't know how they responded to the fact that it is his writing hand. I will have to ask Ainan. You are right, however, in predicting a callous response.

It it is a relief that there is kindness, at least, among the student body - even if not among the teaching staff.

Best wishes

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did they avoid the broken arm of your son? It might seem to be sensitive to them to ask about injury.
I know that teachers are quite particular about hair and dressing. But they don't mean any harm, though.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

To ignore a broken arm and harangue him, instead over his not very long hair (which is wavy, not long), shows insensitivity. They are showing an element of unconscious racism by not accepting the difference in his hair, which is not straight and black but brown and wavy and therefore less controlled looking - and less controllable than the hair they are used to. I find their obsession with it irritating. Can't they just accept that he is different?

I am not sure whether they mean harm or not - but their approach causes harm for it conveys a clear message: we don't care about your arm, but we are bothered about your hair.

The education system and its teachers in Singapore are hung up on trivialities. The important things they should be doing (like giving creative freedom to their children) are not done, but boy do they have to make sure the children have short tidy hair.

8:19 PM  

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