Google
 
Web www.scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com

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 05, 2008

Happy Independence Day.

To all my American readers celebrating Independence Day (4th July) 2008, you have my belated well wishes.

Though it is not a Singaporean celebration, a local American Association is putting on a celebration today, for the American community here. We couldn't make it however. Nevertheless, I hope everyone has a great time.

The US Navy are apparently chipping in with a flyby, which should be good for the kids.

Have a happy day, all.

(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: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.)

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:09 PM  3 comments

The value of being gifted.

Someone arrived on my site, today, with what I regard as strange search terms: "IQ 130 - how much money make".

It wasn't the grammatical choices that concerned me terribly, but the underlying world view of such a query of the internet. I cannot discern whether this is someone who has just had their IQ tested and is wondering how much money they will make in later life, or someone just interested in how much such a person would make. I can tell this, however: they haven't truly understood what being gifted means and the opportunities it presents.

Giftedness is not about money-making. If it was, the richest people would be the smartest - and oddly, they are usually not. They are "smart enough" to run their businesses, but not necessarily as smart as some of the people they employ. Their primary gifts are not necessarily in intellectual areas at all. No: richness and wealth do not equate. Wealth comes from a certain approach to life, in some cases one that others may not agree with - but it is not the inevitable product of intelligence. They are some rather dim rich people and some rather bright poor ones. Though, generally speaking, someone of high intelligence will do "alright" financially - though not necessarily as well as their not-so-bright but more money minded sibling/classmate.

Giftedness presents opportunities for doing things other than make money. It provides the opportunity to do something special. A gifted person who was also creative might write a novel, create a new product/invention, compose music, start a new business, in a new niche, propose a new scientific theory and any number of possible contributions. A gifted person who was not creative might make an outstanding accountant, lawyer or doctor - or any other professional in which intelligence, but not necessarily creativity, was required.

Giftedness is about doing something better than others could - or doing something outside the norm if creatively gifted. If there is money to be made by doing so, it is not usually the primary goal of a gifted person.

Gifted people are usually deeper than to choose the one-dimensional aspiration of "making as much money as possible". If someone's aspiration is to do just that, they are not usually particularly gifted, in my observation, because they have not seen a deeper meaning to life than material acquisition - and so are usually not the brightest of the bright.

A gifted person will often find a goal for their life that is unusual, a goal that others might not understand, but which, if attained, or even just pursued, will add to life in a unique way. That is a better contribution to life and the world, than just amassing the greatest possible fortune.

A gifted person is many things - but the one thing they are usually not, is a money-making machine. That latter accomplishment is usually left to those who are not as bright, but are much more switched on by the drive to amass money.

Linus Pauling, the Chemist and double Nobel Prize Winner, didn't make much money (apart from his Nobel Prizes). There are many, many far less bright people who were much richer. A typical American doctor, for instance, would be much richer than Pauling was. Money-making wasn't Pauling's primary objective: expanding the reaches of science was.

Pauling's life provides an example as to why the most gifted are usually not the richest: their life objectives are higher ones than making money. Any money they make is incidental to the higher calling that is their life's devoted goal.

Were there no people like Pauling - people devoted to their subject or cause, the world, as a culture, would be much the poorer. These gifted people make life richer for all of us, if not for themselves, by their contributions.

Gifted people will often live rich lives in ways not measurable by money. Their lives are rich in experiences, contributions, ideas, projects, new things done and great goals achieved. It is for these things that we should look to them, in admiration - not their yachts and mansions (which they probably won't have).

Society needs gifted people whose goals are other than making money. These gifted people may make ideas that change life for the better for many or for all - and such people are of greater value, therefore, than the world's plutocrats, most of whom don't make much real difference at all. (They do what would be done anyway, without adding anything new).

Some societies drill their gifted young people to aim for money as their highest goal. Singapore is one such place. I wonder how limiting that is, in the way they go on to lead their lives. If a nation's gifted people have the one-dimensional aspiration of money-making as their sole goal, then that nation will never truly shine. Perhaps that explains the way Singapore is: a nation whose gifted people are not encouraged, or even allowed, to have higher goals than the pursuit of wealth. The result is clear to see.

It is telling that the searcher who came to my site with those words: "IQ 130 how much money make" was searching from a Singaporean IP address.

It is time that the education system, here, instilled a deeper set of values than the almighty dollar and its pursuit. The dollar is not the meaning of life - and if it becomes so, the life that is led is ultimately fruitless, and shallow.

They are many other values which a nation could impart to its young. There are many other things in life of value than just money alone. Perhaps it is time for the dollar obsessed nations of the world - of which Singapore is one - to urge their young to look to these other values, too, so that some might choose a deeper path for life.

Oh, by the way, an IQ of 130 is probably enough to make as much money as you might wish for - if the moderately gifted person chooses the right area in which to apply their minds. Some very rich people don't appear to be any brighter 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: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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.

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: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:42 PM  4 comments

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The decline in general knowledge

Perhaps I am imagining it, but it seems to me that people of my generation (and earlier) had greater general knowledge than many of the young people of today. Quite simply world culture, history, events, significant people, science, art and all kinds of sundry knowledge seem to have passed young people by - or become rather confused.

Today, provides a good - and true - example.

Teacher, to class: "Can anyone name a famous artist?"

One eager Mongolian foreign student raises her hand: "Leonardo..."

Excellent, thinks the teacher.

"...Dicaprio." continues the confident, young student.

It is quite galling to think that Mr. Dicaprio, a man whom one person I know, who once met him, at a film gala opening, described as a "complete meathead", is credited, in this Mongolian student's mind, with creating the works of Leonardo Da Vinci.

It is not in this girl's mind, alone, that Da Vinci has been eclipsed by Dicaprio. If you type "Leonardo" into the Yahoo search engine, the first suggestion that comes up is Leonardo Dicaprio. Leonardo Da Vinci is second. Most of the remaining suggestions are related to Leonardo Dicaprio.

It is sad that even the world's search engines - and not just the world's Mongolian students - categorize Dicaprio above Da Vinci. The former is a hearthrob actor who will be completely forgotten, in all probability, in fifty years time. The latter is arguably the greatest, most universal creative genius that Mankind has ever produced. Yet, he is eclipsed by a mere heartthrob.

Modern minds are filled with nonsense which pushes out material of any real significance. I would feel far more comfortable if a typical student was familiar with Leonardo Da Vinci's works, inventions and ideas, rather than an actor from the film Titanic. The former made an enduring, timeless contribution to the development of human culture - the other made a passing entertainment. Yet, in the modern mind, Dicaprio eclipses Da Vinci.

So, not only do the youngsters of today seem to know less, of fewer things - but what they do know is preponderantly trivial and not worth knowing in the first place. I fear for the future when minds imbued with such trivialities come of an age to be in charge of the world around them. One day, they will be the backbone of their society. I only hope they deepen their general knowledge of the world around them, before that time comes - and come to learn the difference between Dicaprio and Da Vinci.

By the way, Da Vinci was the better looking of the two (he was famous for his looks, too). So much for heartthrobs.

(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: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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.

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: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:19 PM  6 comments

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Tower of Babel.

I live on the top flour of an apartment block in Singapore. I could, therefore, be said to live in a tower. Today, that tower seemed like the Tower of Babel, for a moment.

You will recall the tale of Babel, and of how the people of the Earth were fated not to be able to speak in a common tongue. Well, today, Fintan came rushing back from the swimming pool, his hair all wet, his body not yet dry, with urgent words on his lips.

His mouth opened before me, as his eyes searched mine and out poured a string of alien sounds.

I looked at him in puzzlement, trying to make sense of what he had said.

He repeated the alien sounds, clearly puzzled by my lack of response to what were clearly urgent words.

Everyone else in the room began to laugh...to Fintan's evident incomprehension: first I wouldn't react, second, everyone else was laughing. He didn't know why.

Then I told him: "Speak to me in English, Fintan."

At last he understood.

"Daddy, Ainan won't get out of the swimming pool!"

My second born son had spoken to me in Malay, in his urgency to be understood, not recalling, for a moment, that I speak very few words of that tongue.

It was a strange moment - and a distancing one. It felt very uncomfortable to see him so close to me, but unable to communicate. An awful remembrance comes to me now, of a South American man I once knew who was divorced from his Japanese wife. He spoke English and Spanish...but after a while his children began to forget their little English - and he was no longer able to communicate with his own children, for he had little Japanese. How terrible that must be. He had lost them more completely than just the divorce achieved. Well, today, for a moment, I felt that unbridgeable distance between father and son that comes when neither speaks the other's tongue.

Yet, there is another lesson here, too. It is that Fintan is becoming comfortable with his second language - so that he sometimes finds himself speaking it, without even realizing that he is doing so. One day, no doubt, he will be fully bilingual. He won't be my only son to be so.

I just hope he remembers to speak to me in English!

(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: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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.

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: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.)

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:54 PM  0 comments

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Stereotypes: Age and liberalism, conservatism.

There is this strongly held stereotype that, as people age, they become more conservative and rigid in their views and less willing to take in new information and change in accordance to it. Most people, in most places believe in this image. Yet, is it true?

The researchers Nicholas Danigelis, and Stephen Cutler of the University of Vermont and Melissa Hardy of Pennsylvannia State University used a data set on 46,510 Americans from the US General Social Surveys of 1972 to 2004. The surveys assessed attitudes in areas such as politics, race, gender, economic and sexuality issues. In their analysis they corrected for the fact (since the surveys did not refer to the same people) that each set of information was on a different group who had started out with different baseline values and outlooks.

Amazingly, the researchers found that, as people got older, more of them changed towards greater liberalism, than otherwise. Quite simply, their attitudes and outlooks opened up as they got older - they did NOT close down and rigidify.

So, why do people believe that oldsters are rigid, conservative and blinkered in their outlook? Well, because an average 60 year old might seem more conservative than an average 30 year old - but what they haven't realized is that the 60 year old will have started out as much more conservative than they have become. We don't see, at first glance, the change towards liberalism that has occurred over the 60 year old's lifetime. Yet, it is there. The older you get, on average, the more liberal you are going to become.

What does this mean? Well, it means that, in reality, old people are NOT stuck in their ways, ARE open to new information and are likely to hold liberal positions on most issues. The funny thing is, the old sound much like how we imagine the young to be. OLD is the new YOUNG.

(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: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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.

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: http://www.genghiscan.com/ Thanks.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:38 PM  0 comments

Monday, June 30, 2008

Education should be free.

Education should be free, everywhere, everywhen. There should be no fees at any stage of the educational process. To do otherwise, is to compromise the whole purpose, nature and intent of education itself.

Why do I say this? Well, to ask a fee for education - any fee at all - is to ensure that some potential students will be excluded not on the basis of ability but on the inability to pay. The higher the fee, the higher the barrier to those of limited means and the more who will be excluded.

Singapore, like America charges for its education. Thus, like America it is an unequal system where opportunities differ depending on the wealth of one's family. This should not be so.

Today, Ainan returned to Singapore Polytechnic to continue with Chemistry. Unprecedentedly, however, he laboured alone in the labs, the seat beside him, where his lab partner had sat, on all other occasions, remained empty.

Half-way through the class, I asked the lecturer if she knew where Ainan's lab partner was: was she sick...or had she dropped out of the course?

The answer was as feared. Ainan's experimental partner had returned home to Malaysia. The lecturer then voiced my own thought: "I don't know why...she had no problems with the lab work."

I agreed with her. Ainan's partner had been as competent as she had been warm, to Ainan. I very much doubted whether a lack of ability to cope was the reason.

"I think it is probably financial. Singapore is very expensive for a Malaysian - and the economy is not good now."

The lecturer agreed. "Such a pity...she was such a nice girl, too."

"Yes." She had been a very good partner for Ainan.

As I returned to the bench to sit beside Ainan, I reflected on what this meant. Ainan's lab partner had come all the way from Malaysia, to secure a "better education" for herself. She had parted from home and family to do so. Now, however, in all likelihood, she had been forced to give up her dream to return home to Malaysia, her qualification incomplete, her education cut short. The probable reason: money.

I don't think that a lack of money should be allowed to impede anyone's education. Education should be regarded as a basic right - and should be as free as the air we breathe (presently free anyway...). To place a charge upon it, is to ensure that many cannot benefit from it. This means that families whose circumstances are straitened may pass on their limited circumstances to their offspring, whose limited educations will perpetuate the same straitened circumstances. A greater injustice is harder to imagine. Each generation should be allowed to be set free from the limitations of the one before - and the only means to allow that is to ensure that all education is free to all.

Some will object that the girl in question is Malaysian and should therefore pay for a Singaporean education. However, were education free to outsiders Singapore would find little trouble in drawing the best from around the world to its doors - some of whom would go on to settle here. So, there is an advantage even in such a policy.

Whether or not education should be free to non-nationals is not a central issue. The point is that education, in Singapore and America, is not even free to nationals. It should be.

When I grew up, in the UK, Universities were free to all. Indeed, the State paid a fee to each student to cover their living costs at University. This meant that there was social justice: even the poorest could afford to get a University education. It meant that there was great social mobility, with those of poorest background able to rise to the top of the professional tree, if they made the necessary effort - for the doors were not barred by financial means. It strikes me as a better system than those nations that seek a fee everytime knowledge is imparted. Such countries are paying a very high price in the lost potential of their youth.

I wonder, now, whether Ainan's lab partner will ever become the Chemist she had dreamed of being. Will her family be able to afford her education? Will she have to settle for a lesser role in life, wishing away her days on might-have-beens? It is sad - for she would have been a warm and welcome presence in any lab - for not only was she able, but amiable too.

I wish her well on finding a way forward - and I wish well, too, all who are in her situation: stalled in their educations for want of the money to pay for them.

There is a better way: education should be free for all, everywhere, everywhen.

(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: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:40 PM  22 comments

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Two parties for the birthday boy.

Today was Fintan's second birthday party...yes, his second. (Though it is his 5th Birthday, if you know what I mean).

Fintan is a sociable boy and, in the past year he has accumulated enough friends and social contacts among the little people of Singapore, to justify two parties.

His first party was on his birthday, at Wild, Wild, Wet - the water park in Pasir Ris. I will write of that in the next day or two. His second party was, at his request, at McDonald's.

About two dozen children and about a dozen adults attended. It was in a rather picturesque McDonald's, unlike the typical outlet, that had an ornamental pool, shaded "gazebos", a three dimensional play area for the children and a mixed indoor/outdoor selection of seating areas. It is a pleasant and relaxing environment deliberately designed to be welcoming for children.

The kids were treated like little Kings by the staff. A McDonald's staff member was appointed to take the orders from the little ones, showing them a menu with brightly coloured pictures to point at. The food was delivered by trolley service, as if it were an airline and laid out on a double row of tables that had been set out for our two dozen little ones.

Games were played with the kids, by the staff. Fintan's favourite was one in which he was sat down while his friends queued to place clothes pegs on his clothes. It was a competitive game, two groups vying to see how many pegs they could put on their "victim", in a set time. Fintan's team didn't win - but he was good natured about it and was rather happy with it all.

In between games and eating, the kids ran around as if in training for the junior olympics. Luckily, there was plenty of space for them to do so. By the end of it, quite a few of them looked as if they had been caught out in the rain - that was how much they had sweated. Needless to say, the adults wisely decided not to follow them around, but let them zip around on their own, while watching from the safety and leisure of their seats.

At the end, Fintan had to give out goodie bags to all his guests. He was quite shy to do this at first and had to be coaxed, by the presence of his mother behind him, to stand in front of a long queue of friends and give them a bag each, while thanking each of them for coming.

Once home, Fintan proceeded to open a huge bag of presents: it was just like Christmas.

I would like to thank all who came for making Fintan's birthday enjoyable, memorable and fun. He was very happy to see such a good turnout.

Tellingly, we had offered Fintan a chance to travel to a destination of his choice, for his birthday, or to have a party with his friends. Although he has liked all the holidays he has had, he had no hesitation in choosing a party with his friends.

Happy 5th Birthday, Fintan!

(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: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html 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)

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:47 PM  2 comments

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape