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 +

Monday, August 11, 2008

Singapore Parenting Congress 2008

I note that Mediacorp, a Singaporean Government organization, is promoting the Singapore Parenting Congress 2008. This is predictable in the light of the Prime Minister's National Day speech, in which he said that Singapore should do more to help create the right environment for parents.

The Parenting Congress has a range of talks across many parenting issues, with such titles as: "Talking with today's teens"; "Why can't we get along? Managing Parent-teen conflict."; "When words fall on deaf ears."; "Knowing your children better: what works and what doesn't."; "Staying strong as a couple while raising teens."; "Why don't we talk anymore? Family and work-life challenges."; "Conflict resolution for teenagers."; "Saving the parent-child relationship."; "Staying connected with your teenager."; "Smart parenting."

Seeing all these talks, I gathered the impression that the Government is getting serious about its intentions to support the family and strengthen family life. By arranging this Congress, they are disseminating information which could help many families deal with the issues that arise in many families as children grow up.

But then I noticed something unexpected: they are charging for it. To listen to their words of wisdom, an individual must pay 18 dollars for a ticket and 24 dollars for a couple. What was not clear was whether a "ticket" meant admission to one talk only - or to the whole series. Knowing how they generally think, I assume that it is one ticket per talk. Now, that is quite expensive if one wishes to visit several talks. It also makes clear something else: the Government, embodied as it is by Mediacorp, is not yet serious about supporting the family. If it was, this kind of Parenting Congress would be a FREE public service. There are ten talks. At 18 dollars each, that makes 180 dollars for a parent to attend them all; 240 dollars were both parents to attend. That, to me, seems far too much for information which should be freely and publicly available in a nation that is truly serious about supporting family life.

If Singapore is going to crack the problem of a falling native population (Singapore's total fertility rate is only 1.29, leaving each generation much smaller than the one before, excluding immigrants.), it must change its mindset with regards to parents. Parents are not a source of revenues to be milked - at least they should not be seen as such - they are the source of the future of Singapore and should be SUPPORTED in every way possible, to make their challenges less of a challenge.

Singapore has such a low fertility rate precisely because it is not a family friendly place. It is too expensive to raise children in Singapore. So many things - such as healthcare and education - which are FREE in many other developed countries with higher fertility are expensive in Singapore. In this small nation, even parenting information comes at a high price: nothing here is without a fee, without a profit potential for someone. The irony of all of this is that by focussing on short-term gain, the powers-that-be ensure that there is NO LONG-TERM FUTURE for Singapore. If raising a child is made to be as expensive as possible (which seems to be the general idea of the present system) then potential parents will continue to do what they are now doing: not having children in the first place. People will only begin to have more children, when it becomes financially less punishing for them to do so.

Singapore's Government has not shown itself able to think in ways that actually support elements of the population, in the past. Unless it changes the system so as to be supportive of parents, in Singapore, native born Singaporeans will continue to be a rare commodity.

As it stands, Singapore has no true future for a very simple and unavoidable reason: the next generation is only about 60 per cent of the size it needs to be to maintain the population base. In other words, in a few generations, at this non-replacement rate, there won't be any Singaporeans at all. It will be a dead nation. That is the effect of the policies surrounding parenting, to date. It remains to be seen whether the Government has the vision, the determination and the will to expend resources to ensure that Singapore has a future - for without the patter of little feet across the land, there is no such future.

The fees for the Singapore Parenting Congress 2008 are a bad sign. They are a sign that the Government has not yet learnt what parents actually need. The last thing they need, in oh-so-expensive Singapore - is another cost to pay out. It is time to think of parenting as a national public service - and to support it as one. Parents do something very important: they ensure that a nation has a future. I can think of nothing more important than that.

(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

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:49 PM 


Blogger Miao said...

An Australian journalist once commented that Singapore is "pragmatism gone mad". Everything is measured in terms of its monetary worth, decisions are all made based on detailed cost-and-benefit analyses, despite the fact that there are certain things whose intangible value cannot possibly be quantified. Just because we cannot assign a price tag to something does not necessarily make it any less precious. It is sad to see that such 'pragmatism' is practised at the expense of foresight and humanity.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Miao,

If this love of charging for everything, including all those things which should be basic and free to all developed societies (like the information of how to be a good parent!!!), continues, the day will come when there won't be any Singaporeans at all, left. This present way of doing things will be the doom of Singapore, if it persists. I await with interest whether any wisdom will dawn on those in power. If not, one day they won't have a country to be in power over.

In a way it is darkly funny.

Best wishes.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've emigrated to NZ for the past 5 yrs. And boy , does this country have lots of babies !! That's because prenatal and postnatal care is free; deliveries and hospital stays are free! Work and Income NZ helps parents with family tax credits. Wish I could still have babies ! lol ! The minimum tax rate here is 19.5% , GST is 12.5% . But my kids and I are a whole lot happier here than back in SG. For one thing we have a life. For another they take care of their citizens (and PRs fortunately for me) over foreigners (talented or not). I don't think anyone begrudges paying taxes if they know they will benefit in the longer term. And ministers here don't get sky high salaries and the last I check , they rank quite high on the corruption free index.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your perspective on NZ: it sounds a civilized place.

Singapore has a lot to learn about creating a baby-friendly environment - but I don't feel that the Government is constitutionally able to take the right steps. Their priorities and belief systems don't allow them (at least have not allowed them) to create a human, warm, welcoming and supportive environment for new life. That is why there isn't any, or very little of it, anyway.

Enjoy your life on that beautiful island.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard there will be a "love" course for A levels students. Throw in practicals and make it part of the Uni entry requirements ... problem solved!
Check out the projection on your excel spreadsheets.

Profitable and effective. :-)


9:06 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Ha ha...No Name.

It is funny that they actually need a Love all other countries I know of, such things come naturally.

I hope it works.

9:27 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape