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, January 09, 2009

A curiously personalized personal computer.

Ainan's computer does things my computer doesn't. Furthermore, it isn't because he has bought software I haven't got - it is because Ainan has made his computer behave that way.

Somehow, he has taught himself how to programme certain aspects of his computer. Making particular entries brings up unique message boxes, with comic messages in them (written by Ainan). One popular programme launch button has even been booby trapped so that pressing it shuts the computer down. Ainan thinks this is hilarious, since anyone, but him, who uses his computer is likely to run into that and various other problems. Ainan has made his computer quirky. It has a personality all of its own, with a set of responses that no other computer has.

Even after all these years, in his company, Ainan still manages to surprise me. He has never had a single computer programming lesson. He has never been to a computer class. Yet, he has taught himself, from online files, how to get his computer to behave in a personalized manner. He is programming the responses he wants from it.

As I watch him teach himself things no-one has ever ventured to teach him and master them with what seems effortless ease, I come to the conclusion that, if every child was like Ainan, schools would be entirely superfluous. A child like Ainan doesn't need a school to learn anything - they just need books (or the internet equivalent) and their own innate curiosity.

I am reminded that, when Ainan was six, he taught himself Chemistry, from the internet. Here he is, then, again, teaching himself some programming skills - also from the internet.

A resourceful child needs only a net connection (or a well-stocked library) to educate themselves. I don't see in what way schools are superior to the process I observe in Ainan. At his age, school would not yet even have started to teach Chemistry or programming - yet Ainan is quite able to learn these things on his own, already. School, perhaps, only has utility for those unable to teach themselves. Those who are, however, are probably hampered, rather than enabled by the requirements of school.

To date, almost everything Ainan knows has been learnt at home - much of it by himself. School plays little part in his education.

Back to the topic in hand: mercifully, he has not, yet, booby trapped my computer with any quirky behaviour - but I rather enjoy watching the things that his does, when one tries to interact with it in a normal way.

It is good to see him add another area of skill to his repertoire. He seems to be laying down all the key skills he would need to be scientifically and technically proficient, as an adult - and he is making the selections himself.

By the time, he reaches the age when schools actually begin teaching the skills he is acquiring, he will already be expert in all of them. It would almost be funny, if it wasn't so sad. You see, schools should really allow kids like Ainan to develop when they want to - and not put them on a "go-slow" programme, which would bore them.

Luckily, Ainan has his own solution: it is called an internet connection, a pile of books and lots of curiosity.

(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 @ 6:58 PM 


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