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 +

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The worst kind of student.

Those who have never taught, have never had the chance to learn many valuable lessons about human nature. Some of those lessons, however, can be rather depressing.

I recall once teaching a group of Chinese students from the PRC. They were not the stereotypical Chinese students. They were neither particularly bright - in fact they were a bit dull - nor were they particularly industrious - in fact they were rather lazy.

Typically, whenever set a task that involved speaking, this group of students (four boys) would sit and do nothing. They never even attempted to do the tasks. However, they did mumble to each other in Chinese, throughout. Whenever they were asked to do written tasks, they made relatively little effort and their output was among the poorest in the class. Now, none of this might have mattered much were it not for what they did outside the class.

Every week, this group of students would complain, in Chinese, to the Chinese management of this school that they "weren't learning anything". It transpires that they had been told, in China, before coming here, that they would learn English in "three months". They seemed also to believe that this learning process would occur magically, without any effort on their part at all.

Now, everytime this particular group of students complained, I would get hauled up by management for it. The manager would then tell me things which they had said such as: "He never marks our work"...which were wholly untrue. I made a point of correcting everything they ever wrote. The sessions would turn into a "he said, she said" ritual, in which I was accused of things which never happened - yet it was just my word against the word of these very lazy students.

It was dispiriting teaching them. You see, everyday I would have to stand up in front of them and teach them - while watching them play brain dead, knowing, that they were stabbing me in the back, on a weekly basis.

The funny thing is, that in the very same class, there were students who wrote feedback that I was the "best teacher they had had". The difference was, of course, that the ones who liked my teaching made an effort to do the work - and the ones who didn't, blamed the teacher for their lack of progress, rather than taking a good look at their lack of effort.

Experiences like this one, rather put people off teaching. You see, the teacher is attacked for the students' own failings. The students, in this case, were just not willing to make the effort to learn - but blamed their failure to do so, on the teacher. The management of the school, in question, seemed to side with the students because "they pay the bills" and "we can't afford to lose them". Thus, the teacher is in the strange position of being appreciated by some students as the "best teacher" and attacked by other students on a weekly basis, and by the management of the school, as well.

In the end, such experiences lead one to conclude that teaching is not worth the effort of the teacher - so one is lead to look at other avenues.

This kind of situation could be prevented if there were higher standards of recruitment. If a student is not really motivated to study and is just there because their parents want them to be there, perhaps they shouldn't be there at all. Let them stay in China, for they won't do any good coming here to laze around and complain about everything including the food (they love to complain about that, too). My advice to them: stay home and watch TV. Don't waste the time of your teachers, or the money of your parents. It is better than becoming a toxic presence in a classroom.

Of course, they will never read my advice because they can't read well. So, I suppose I shall just have to wish for a world in which such students only exist in nightmares.

(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:

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:00 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it does sound frustrating. It's a waste of time for both parties.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, haven't u posted this before?

2:53 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

No, I haven't posted this particular situation before. If, however, you have read something similar, it will refer to problems with another group of people. This goes to show that PRCs etc are not, necessarily, the most wonderful students in the world - despite considerable mythology otherwise.

Thanks for your comment.

5:09 PM  

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