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 +

Thursday, March 04, 2010

An appreciation of beauty.

There is a phrase that Ainan says a lot, particularly recently. Perhaps you might like to guess what it is? He uses this phrase to describe things in the world and he says it with a quiet reverence. I find its use most revealing of who Ainan actually is.

Please have a guess. It is the same phrase over and over again. He doesn't say it repeatedly, in a day, but I might hear it once or twice a week, when he encounters something that makes him react that way.

Have you made your guess? Well, the phrase is: "It's beautiful!". He says it with such quiet intensity, that I know, for sure, that he feels the beauty of what he is seeing. He says it spontaneously and not in response to a question.

I first noticed this, a few months ago, when he was reading about Circumzenithal Arcs and Circumhorizontal Arcs - which are both rainbow like atmospheric phenomena. He said: "It's beautiful!". I perked up at that, because it wasn't a scientific reaction to his reading, but an aesthetic one. Thereafter, of course, I started to pay more attention to whether or not he was responding aesthetically to things and I came to observe that such a response in him, was rather common. Ainan really appreciates beauty.

I find this interesting. It goes along well with the mathematicians and scientists of old, whom I have read referring to equations as "beautiful". They usually say this when something is clear, simple and effective. So perhaps they are actually responding to "elegance". Nevertheless, I find it tantalizing that Ainan should share an aesthetic appreciation of phenomena with these names (whose names elude me!) of old.

However, I should point out that Ainan's appreciation of beauty goes beyond that of the scientist's purview, into that of the artist. He notes as beautiful such things as the glint off a sword, in a picture, a building, or a car - and not just scientific phenomena. He is, therefore, responding to VISUAL beauty.

I wonder at this. Is there an artist in Ainan waiting to come out? Will he prove to be a more balanced type of creative individual - one both artist and scientist? This repeated phrase of his is a hint that he may very well become so - for he has a definite aesthetic response to the world and that, I propose, is one of the more powerful signs of a nascent artist: first comes the artistic appreciation of the world and then come the artistic creations. Without the appreciation of beauty, to begin with, there would be no drive to create artistically at all. There are other hints, too, in him...but I will leave those to other posts.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:28 AM 


Blogger Christine said...

I am glad Ainan sees beauty all around him. The laws of nature are beautiful. The way nature is so complex, yet works together, is amazing.
What makes nature so beautiful is its laws and also its diversity.
I wish I knew more about optics, that's one area I wish I were more knowledgeable at.

I recently did a lesson with my students on the Golden Ratio. It's amazing how so many things in nature hold true to that ratio. We had fun measuring each other in class, showing how our stature and our arms' length go along with the Golden Ratio.

Ainan reminds me of Einstein, who said he daydreamed about riding a golden light beam to the sun. That made him wonder about light and how the sun affected the earth.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I think that the appreciation of beauty is an underappreciated gift, in the modern world. The quest for money so predominates many lives, that they never pause to consider the beauty they encounter in their lives: in some ways, I don't think they are able to see it.

Seeing beauty is the foundation for making beauty - whether it be an elegant equation, or an expressive painting: both start in the same place - an eye for beauty.

Ainan likes the Golden Ratio too.

6:06 PM  

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