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, October 13, 2009

Cambridge University: should a creative person study there?


(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.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals. If you would like to look at my IMDb listing for which another fifteen credits are to be uploaded, (which will probably take several months before they are accepted) please go to: As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of please do take a look. My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at: My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at:

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:55 PM 


Blogger yuku said...

I like your blog, except the advertisement on the end of the page. And especially this entry. Only "No."?

9:30 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Yuku,

The entry above is, actually, my favourite post. It says all that needs to be said about the Cambridge experience for a creative person - and it does it in one word. The experience was long, arduous and complex, making for lengthy posts were I to explain it fully (aspects of which have been explained in rather long posts). The problem with full explanations is that they are so long that many people don't read them. The virtue of the post above is that everyone gets the message without getting lost in a long post.

As for the ads: I have no control over which ads appear: that is up to Google. Sorry about that.

I am glad you enjoy my blog, in general.

Thanks. Perhaps I will write more on Cambridge another time. However, I like it the way it is, for reasons explained.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Indiana said...

Valentine, this is probably not for posting here, so feel free to delete it once you have read it, but I would be interested to hear your take on the ST and this article:

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, can you give a summary of what happened?

2:37 PM  
Blogger yuku said...

I like your other article when you said that Singaporean workers are not creative, and the Indonesians (or Thais, etc.) are the most creative. That's why I want to know why a creative person should not study at Cambridge University. Are there some reasons? Will the students be taught like Singaporeans are taught? That came to my mind.


6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Afterall Cambridge played a part in making who you are today. You won't realise how creative you are if you didn't study in a boring place, isn't it?

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its fun cos now u're leaving us imagining all sorts of possibilities n reasons on y a creative person should NOT study there.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has to be your shortest entry ever. ;)

-- Maria --

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you saying that it is only worth applying for arts subjects? because it has produced some of the best research and scientists. hich college did you study in? because they arent all the same and u might have had a bad experience. Where would you suggest "creative" people study?

5:58 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Rachael, I think that Cambridge produces little. The people who go there are ALREADY good, even great. The institution is not responsible for this. I shall post longer on it, at another time.

I would not recommend Cambridge University for ANY subject, if you are a creative person. Unfortunately, I do not have an exhaustive knowledge of the culture of other Universities, but I would suggest looking for one that welcomes creative people and is FRIENDLY to them - and does not have a tendency to plagiarize. They must respect the right of the creative person to own their own ideas. They must also be pleased to have them around and must not see them as a threat to be opposed.

Thanks for your question Rachael.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Indiana,

I should address your comment, perhaps, in a proper post. I will note, here, however that the boy in question is much less precocious, in speech, than Ainan. Indeed, all three of my children began speaking before him. In that we are not alone. I have had comments from other parents from children around the world, who began speaking much earlier than this boy.

I find the article a strange one. It is strange because it shows no knowledge of the COMPARATIVE situation with other children...there are other children out there who are much more precocious - so why is this kid news? He is news because the writer doesn't know the situation with respect to other kids - and is overly taken up with the label "mensa". Mensa is not a particularly difficult organization to gain membership of. Yet it is respected.

I don't know why the ST covered the boy since he is much less precocious than Ainan - whom they tend not to cover. Perhaps they cover him because this kid is not Malay and not a risk of disturbing the status quo.

The comparisons to renowned physicists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking are just funny - because the kid may share an estimated IQ with them, but he shares none of their special knowledge, ability and insight. It is a silly comparison. It is like saying that I am like Usain Bolt because we both have two legs. It is quite a ridiculous comparison. There is no way of guessing now, what this child will become and will prove interested in. To compare him to great Physicists is highly misleading. He may bear no comparison to them at all.

Thanks for pointing out the article.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Cawley,

Your comment - "I don't know why the ST covered the boy since he is much less precocious than Ainan - whom they tend not to cover. Perhaps they cover him because this kid is not Malay and not a risk of disturbing the status quo."

I am confused. I have the impression that there has been considerable publicity on Ainan by the newspapers. I remember reading quite a number of articles on him in the local newspapers. Your earlier post mentioned that too:

"They are a marketing department. They are supposed to be kept informed about what is going on in the world - but they claim that no-one in the entire Nestle marketing team had read a newspaper in the last couple of years and that they had all missed the twenty or so articles that had appeared in various newspapers in that time."

Regarding the Malay part, 2 years ago when we had a Malay girl who topped the PSLE, there was a lot of publicity on her by the local media too. We Singaporeans are very proud of her achievements! For Ainan's case, my take is, there have been so many articles on his achievements that the local media decides that enough is enough, as they are no longer "news". Perhaps a few years later, when there are more worthy news, then the media will start publish about him again.


11:29 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

My remark regarding the failure to cover Ainan applies, in particular, to the Straits Times. They have long been playing a game (about two years now) in which they have ignored stories about him, that the other papers, in Singapore have picked up on. Instead, they have found a Chinese person with a competing story and covered them, instead. They do this basically every time, now. So, one can see a very notable and obvious anti-Malay tendency in story selection at the ST.

Most oddly, the Berita Harian - the national Malay newspaper - didn't cover Ainan recently either. It is getting pretty strange around here, in terms of the media.

News is that which is new and Ainan's achievements are new in the sense of setting new benchmarks for precocity - so in that sense they should be covered, particularly because he is Singaporean. However, more often than not, the local game has become one of ignoring, minimizing or sidelining him. Perhaps someone "high up" has decided that he should not be allowed to "grow" locally. I would think the fact that he is Malay might have something to do with it, given the real political situation in Singapore. At least, that is how it seems.

However, you have made a good point in that if something is not news it will not be covered, normally. Yet, there is something called an "ongoing narrative" which, normally, once started results in threshold for news declining such that ever more minor news items get reported about known individuals. We can see this happening with Ris Low. Everything gets reported even the fact that she has a boyfriend. By any real measure this is not news - yet reported it is. She has established an "ongoing narrative" and so everything is reportable. The same thing would normally have happened with Ainan in Singapore, by now...but it hasn't. That it hasn't is very interesting - for it indicates that there is an unseen pressure against this scenario developing (even though it naturally develops in almost all cases of repeated news presence).

I am not trying to persuade anyone of what we have come to see and understand about the situation in Singapore. That we have seen it and understood it is enough for us. There is a lot of evidence for what we say in the contact we have had with the media - but this is not the place to air all that.

Singapore is a country of many races, but it is not true to say that there is no racially based discrimination here. It is the most discriminatory country I have ever lived in, in many ways. This is a reality that any of Singapore's minorities acknowledges from personal experience. It is not something that the Chinese majority is aware of or understands.

Thank you for your comment.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Valentine,

But isn't Ainan 'Eurasian' or 'Others' (the horror!) rather than 'Malay' from the point of view of the Singaporean bureaucracy?

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Cawley,

Thanks for your response.

If I were you, I will just take it in stride, since you have no control over what the local media publishes. In any case, it is the beauty of blogging that allows you to publish anything you deem fit. Also, as long as you know Ainan (and your other 2 lovely children) is profoundly gifted, does it really matter whether others think so or are aware of it, or not?

Regarding racial discrimination, perhaps it is not that apparent to the Chinese majority. What is more apparent to me is, the govt seems to be in the ivory tower and has lost touch with the ground. It is not the same caring govt that I know of, many years ago.

All the best to you and your family!


5:46 PM  

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