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, June 07, 2009

On the acceptance of difference

Some societies are more accepting of the "different" among them, than others. One of the poorest, in this respect, seems to be Russia.

A couple of days ago, I bumped into a Russian friend who is married to a Singaporean. She told me of many things, but what struck me were her reasons for leaving Russia. She is Caucasian, so these reasons may not have applied to her...but that she felt uncomfortable about the situation was clear. In Russia, you are punished if you are different. This punishment begins at bullying and ends at murder. If, for instance, you are smart, at school, you will be bullied, in Russia, on a daily basis, simply for being different in this respect. If you are Asian, you might very well be killed.

My friend told me of one case she knew of, in Russia, in which a Korean family, consisting of a mother, father and ten year old daughter, were set upon by Russians, and beaten to death. Even the ten year old girl was killed. The reason for their murder was just that they were Asian.

Now, clearly, Russia is an extreme example. This tendency, of Russians, to pick on the outsiders in their midst, can only weaken the country and lead to a diminished nation. Russia is a country that cannot benefit from the input of non-Caucasian foreigners, for would simply be too dangerous for such people to consider living there. Thus, the Russian talent pool is narrowed and impoverished - and the whole of Russia suffers from it.

However, there are other countries, in which outsiders are not accepted. To some degree most countries are guilty of this, though perhaps with a less extreme response than the Russian one. In all cases, the country is weakened by its refusal to accept diversity: with a variety of different people of different backgrounds, come different capabilities and that can only be to the good of a nation.

My hope is that the Russians mature and come to accept outsiders in their midst - and that other countries with similar attitudes also grow up a bit. It does no-one any good, to pick on anyone. Anywhere in which any group of people suffers from any kind of discrimination is a place that is weaker than it could be.

There is no harm in being aware of difference - and perhaps even intrigued by it - but we must most certainly fight against any intolerance of difference, of whatever kind. Accept the will be doing your town, city, country, a lot of good by doing so.

In the meantime, however, if you are Asian, I would recommend steering clear of Russia, for the time being.

(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 @ 7:19 PM 


Anonymous Daisy said...

I apologise if my question seems impertinent, I just wondered if your son had ever been discriminated against in any way due to his intelligence? I realise it can be hard for children of a young age to understand such intelligence in others.If so how did you deal with this? I personally have felt the need to "dumb down" for the benefit of the other pupils in my school since the age of 6, the others in my area merely lash out at any demonstration of intelligence. If you have the time I would be grateful of any advice, especially on how to reach potential from a disadvantaged background. My mother struggles(being on her own) to provide for my brother and I and would be very grateful to hear how you help your sons to reach their potential.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for your comment, Daisy.

My son has not mentioned any incidents to us...perhaps I should ask him about it. However, I certainly experienced such discrimination when I was younger, and encountered a lot of concerted bullying, from large numbers of people. So, it does occur in some societies (that was the UK).

I find two tools to be very useful: the internet - which you clearly have access to - and books. Those are the things we use to help our son grow. There is no need for tutors, or anything fancy. If books seem expensive, try to find a library that has the kinds of books you seek, and take them out from there.

I think it is a myth that one needs expensive schools to get a good education. All one needs is access to information and a good brain. Indeed, some expensive schools will just expose the bright child to bullying.

I don't know if your mother can help you with your studies, but if she cannot it is not really necessary: you just need to focus on the meaning of the words in the books or on the net and work it out for yourself. I am sure you are able to do this. It is what I did as a child and what my child is doing now.

Best of luck Daisy on becoming who you should be.

Kind regards

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Curious said...

On a related note, who was the smartest human being who ever lived in known human history to today? There are many opinions but for the given answer, is there also evidence to back the choice? Thank you!

10:33 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Curious,

The question is difficult to answer because people can be compared in different ways. Firstly, we cannot compare living children to dead adults...because the children haven't lived long enough to fulfil their potential. Thus, we can only really look at living adults or dead adults.

My personal choice is Leonardo Da Vinci since he is arguably the most abundantly CREATIVE person in history. So, if you have creativity as one of your main criteria of smartest he would be your choice given his creativity across the spectrum of human accomplishment. There is plenty of evidence for this...his thousands of pages of notebooks and extant works, for instance.

Thank you for your question.

11:29 PM  

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