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 +

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The limits of the world.

What are the limits of the world? How do we perceive them?

Sometimes, when people hear of Ainan and his attributes they just don't believe in them. Their response is often quite strong: "That is impossible!", they seem to be saying and point blank refuse to accept what they are told. To them, the way Ainan is, is beyond the limits of the world. He is an impossibility, for them.

Why do they think this way? I think it is because what they perceive to be limits of the world, are, in fact, limits of themselves. They are not like that. They have no personal experience of being like that. Unconsciously, they think that the human is limited in the same way that they are limited. In other words, they think of themselves as the limit of what can be. It is not within their imagination to conceive of someone more precocious or more capable than themselves.

Of course, not everyone reacts this way to Ainan. Many simply accept him for the way he is, even if a little wonderingly. Others come out with tales of their own gifted childhood and times they, too, were misunderstood. However, it is the Impossibles! that draw my attention and concern. People like that often cause stress and distress for the parents of gifted children. Gifted children are often met with misunderstanding, incomprehension and even, at times, hostility. Part of the reasons for these responses lie in this perception of limits. There is a belief in some people's minds that a child that goes beyond what they, often unconsciously, hold as limits, cannot be real. Some of them are very vociferous in expressing their beliefs to the parents of gifted children (conversations along these lines are not uncommon on parenting and "gifted" message boards). The harm to gifted families is palpable. There is the feeling, among some of them, that they cannot express, in any way, what they are going through, without meeting opposition and hostility and open doubt from some.

There is a remedy for this: everyone should accept the idea that the limits of the world are greater than the limits of ourselves or of any one person. That another can do something that is inconceivable for ourselves, should not, in itself, make that thing inconceivable. The other person is just different, that is all, and therefore bound by different constraints.

It is true that humans have limits. However, I have learnt that those limits are far less limited than many people suppose. The limits of the human world are great indeed, and stretch far beyond what we are accustomed to think of, as human behaviour. It is possible, indeed, that no-one, who has yet lived, has actually bumped up against the true limits of the human world: not even the fabled such as Leonardo da Vinci.

I wonder what those who doubt the tales of gifted children think of the tales of Leonardo da Vinci? Compared to most gifted children, Leonardo is a demi-god. How much more skepticism would that elicit, in them? Funny enough, I have had searchers arriving on my blog with the words "Did Leonardo da Vinci exist?". Luckily, however, there was a Leonardo da Vinci...and the limits of the human world are greater than many suppose.

(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 @ 2:26 PM 


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