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 +

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The value of persistence.

One of the qualities I admire in Fintan, 5, is his persistence. This quality shows through in everything that he does.

A couple of days ago, he was given a wooden helicopter kit. It was, as you might imagine, a box filled with fiddly little pieces and not so little pieces. As is customary with such things, it came with an unhelpful bit of paper that might as well have been written in a dead language for all the sense it made. So, the instructions weren't much help. However, Fintan didn't seem to need them, for he had a secret weapon, two in fact: patience and persistence.

He set about his task with a quiet focus. He picked up the pieces, one by one, examining their shape and imagining their eventual position in the structure. Then he started putting pieces together, like some great 3-d puzzle (which, of course, it was).

When he liked the look of a particular arrangement the pieces were duly glued together, initially using transparent tape, for fear of him harming himself with the superglue that would eventually do so.

It wasn't an easy thing to build. It was a complicated machine of many pieces. Yet, there he sat, at the table, quietly building it, piece by piece. It was getting on in the evening and it really was time for bed...but still he laboured on.

Finally, he put the rotors, which he had first assembled on the top. It was done: Fintan had built the helicopter.

It was time to go to bed, so his mother took him by the arm and lead him away, the moment he had finished.

Ainan, who had been waiting, proceeded to take the rotors off, again, so as to begin the task of super gluing everything together firmly. Fintan struggled in his mother's arms: he misunderstood and thought that Ainan was disassembling his lovely helicopter. He only relented and went to bed, mollified, once he understood that Ainan was just doing what he should not: using the superglue.

I felt a peculiar happiness to see Fintan do all this. He had persevered, in a difficult task, until the end and without the benefit of instructions. He had actually built the helicopter from an unpromising pile of wooden bits and pieces. What made me even more happy was seeing his reaction to Ainan interfering with his work: there was a sense of investment in his work, in Fintan, a sense of pride, achievement and ownership. These are all the basic attitudes of someone who will do meaningful things, in life - for things done have meaning for them.

I think I have caught a glimpse of the adult Fintan will become: one who perseveres until the job is done, who doesn't give up until all obstacles have been overcome and who feels pride in his achievements. Now, that is a young man I would like to meet one day.

Well done 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: 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 @ 10:32 PM 


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