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, April 24, 2009

An alternative to AWARE's war.

Presently, the women's advocacy group, AWARE, in Singapore is engaged in what amounts to a civil war - or perhaps a hostile takeover.

As any Singaporean reader will know, but no overseas reader would...AWARE has recently been hijacked by what appears to be an organized group of outsiders, who have moved in, and elected themselves into the positions of authority in AWARE. Basically, they have taken over the show...although none of them has a history of volunteering or working with AWARE before. Another issue to note is that they seem mainly to be associated with a Christian fundamentalist Church and to be strongly anti-gay. AWARE had previously spoken up on behalf of all women, gay or not. That non-discriminatory stance now appears to be in danger.

From what I understand, there is now a war on, at AWARE...and a dirty war it is too. The "old guard" and the new are fighting...and the incomers are doing everything they can - including such moves as changing the locks on the offices, to make life difficult for the old guard.

There is shortly to be an EGM at which a vote of no confidence has been called, in an attempt to thwart the incomers.

At this stage, it cannot be determined whether the incomers, led by Josie Lau the new President and Thio Su Mien (the ostensible puppeteer in the background, pulling the strings), will win out and push out the old guard for good. Perhaps, at the EGM, the new guard will be ousted. We will see.

I have, however, a suggestion to the losers: start a new organization. There is no need to fight over AWARE. The old guard, who say they believe in standing up for women, of all situations, and the new guard, who mainly seem to stand for stamping out lesbianism, clearly have incompatible views of how AWARE should be run. Clearly, they cannot work together. Were both groups to remain as part of AWARE, no work would be done, for all would be fighting each other. The answer is to split off and form a new organization. If the old guard lose, they can simply take their ideals and their experience elsewhere and set up a new organization, for themselves, with a constitution that doesn't allow outsiders a vote, or the ability to take it over.

The same applies to the new guard. If they strongly believe in something (other than a fundamentalist Christian God and gay bashing), then they can set up their own organization if they lose. However, I foresee one problem with this: the approach of the new guard seems to suggest that their primary interest is in suffocating the voice that AWARE represents, rather than expressing their own voice. So, perhaps, the new guard at least, wants control of AWARE precisely so as to snuff out that voice. The new guard would not be happy then, just starting a new organization, because that would not snuff out the voice they want silenced.

My suggestion, though, at least works for the old guard, who do have a voice they want represented. They can simply take that voice elsewhere and re-establish themselves. If they lose the vote, they should most certainly do this.

I don't know how AWARE is funded...but it would be interesting to see which way their natural funding will flow: will it follow the old guard, or flow to the new?

In my eyes, starting a new organization to embody the other voice, is an ideal solution. It is one that prevents a war and provides a peaceful solution.

The irony of this is that AWARE's strength was its weakness. In being open to all, they allowed outsiders to come in and hijack their organization. If they had been a more closed, less accessible organization, this could never have happened. Perhaps, unfortunately, they should give up some of their openness, should they reform and create a body that cannot be taken over, to maintain the voice that they wish to express.

I wish those who are sincere in what they wish to say, in all of this, the opportunity to be heard.

(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 @ 10:23 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As CS Lewis once noted, successful organizations/systems will inevitably be corrupted by some not-so-nice folks. 'Cos humans are not perfect.

Now, would the old AWARE be able to offer the other cheek? Unfortunately, old AWARE folks are human too. Sadly I see an unsightly battle where the real losers are the disadvantaged people AWARE is supposed to help.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. You are right about the real perhaps my suggestion that they start afresh is a good one: they could create an organization immune to hostile influence and just get on with what they really wish to do. All they need is a protective constitution. It wouldn't be difficult to arrange.

Thanks for your comment.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Melissa Chan said...

I have been following the AWARE case pretty closely over the past few weeks.

This is one of the few cases that should have been settled internally, in my opinion. I know of many who share similar sentiments. Then again, I might not know enough of what has actually happened to come to a suitable conclusion as to what the old guard and new guard should have done, and what they can do.

However, your suggestion is one which I do agree with. However, taking into consideration the amount of time required to set up such an organization which is "optimal", as well as the effects of this entire issue, I'm sad to say that I do not believe this suggestion to be entirely possible. I highly doubt both guards will be willing to back down either.

Perhaps, if there were a protective constitution, AWARE might have succeeded. But for now, such a constitution will not work for any organization set up by anyone from both guards. Besides, where'd the funding come from?

I guess this all boils down to the root of the matter. How did it start? From where did this entire situation go wrong? The papers have certainly not answered this clearly enough, but have merely brought up people who may have exacerbated the current situation.

It's certainly not lesbianism, not homosexuality itself that brought about this AWARE saga. Neither will settling this particular topic bring any closure to this case. All in all, I believe this is just a clash of two opinions and a fight for the right to define who is correct, and who is wrong.

I think I sound incoherant XD But I couldn't help but want to express my personal opinion on various things mentioned on this blog.

I am a student, or rather, a product of Singapore's education system. Reading your posts about your son's development have certainly widened my exposure in this aspect of education. I have never thought of Singapore's education system being inadequate, but more so, suffocating. I must admit that being born to university-educated parents have certainly given me a headstart in education. Then again, they're what you might call "kiasu", but not to the extreme side of it. They've always expected good results from me, good here being top in primary school to being at least one of the top few in secondary school. Primary school was relatively easy, since I went to a neighbourhood school and people there were generally not so competitive. I enjoyed life there, not only because I managed to fulfil my parents' expectations, but because I was allowed to embrace my hobbies freely.

I am, perhaps, not a conventional teenager. I don't get why people love online gaming or various social activities found on the net. I have neither interest nor aptitude in pop culture or fashion (though I do believe in dressing smartly). I can't even begin to list various "crazy" activities which I have heard of that are being carried out by teenagers my age, or even comprehend why they do what they do. I just do things that capture my interest, like reading science fiction. Science and math are probably the subjects which Asians are most proficient at, and this too is the same in my case.

I was just probably a little above average, striving to work even harder to compete in an environment designed for students above average (my secondary school). I may have succeeded for now, since our education system allows for little or no mistakes at all, but I can't say that in the long run. All I can say right now is that I do know I'm smarter than most teenagers my age, but so are the other 4000-5000 in Singapore my age. That itself is sufficient for me to know my place, but strive for the best.

I seem to be rambling. Gosh. But it might be interesting to note that with IP & DSA, elite schools are not exactly what they seem. I personally joined my current school which has IP through DSA(academic), and I must say that through my experience, such schools breeds elitism, at least in my case. A far-fetched case that your children will probably never come across in their schooling years, but definitely mainstream XD

6:16 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for your comment Melissa.

To my eyes, workable or not, the only real solution to this problem lies in the formation of a new organization. If those two groups exist INSIDE the same organization, they will only war with each other: I don't think mutual civility is really an option after all the "bad blood" that has been shed.

As for your experience of schooling...thanks for sharing it.

I would agree that Asians have a propensity to be good at science and maths IN remains to be seen whether this can be converted into effectiveness on the global science/tech stage. It hasn't, yet, in some we will what the next decades bring.

Kind regards

10:56 PM  

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