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, September 28, 2010

Time to go to school.

Fintan doesn't accept the adult world, he questions it. Just because older people do something that doesn't means it's the right way - at least not according to young Fintan, seven.

About two weeks ago, I was putting my sons to bed, whilst Fintan wandered around the room, propelled by some inner ponderings. It was a Sunday night and Monday was looming.

"How come adults don't go to school?", he queried, somewhat piqued at the seeming injustice of it.

"Because they have finished school.", I explained.

"No, they haven't!", he retorted, utterly unconvinced by my reason, "...because they forget a lot of things."

Ah. The "Dumb Adult" syndrome - I, too, knew it well, when I was a child. Now, it was my turn to see it expressed on the tongue of my son.

He had a point, though: adults do forget much of their school days' knowledge - and they really should go on learning throughout their lives. This, I think, was Fintan's essential point: adults need to be learning too - but generally aren't.

He wasn't finished with me.

"Tomorrow," he began very seriously, all intent on his plan, "I am an adult, so I don't need to go to school."

He looked at me, in challenge, as if to say: "If that is so, how can you protest?"

"Tomorrow, I am 20." His eyes added: "So, there!"

I looked at him just as seriously.

"If you are 20 tomorrow, there will be no need for you to go to school."

His eyes brightened, and he smiled, broadly, and unbidden, perhaps unaware of how much he did so.

"But," I continued, just as seriously and without a hint of the smile I felt, within, "If you are still 7, you have to go."

He was silent for a moment and wandered off, his back turned to me.

Finally, he turned and addressed me from across the room, with a renewed certainty in his approach.

"Tomorrow,", he announced, "I will be 43!", he paused triumphantly, for a second, before continuing, in explanation: "I will grow really fast in 24 hours."

Satisfied with his solution, he settled himself to sleep - and a new life, on waking, as an instant adult.

I left him to his dreams - those both waking and sleeping.

I note, now, how he shifted, from the present tense, description of "tomorrow", to the future tense, on hearing me use it, once. That indicates a certain attentiveness, in him, to speech. It also shows, of course, what kind of verbal structures he is exposed to, at school, where English is but one of the languages spoken, and Malay predominates.

His choice of ages, too, is significant. If you are a long term reader, you will know that I am 42. Fintan knows that I don't go to he clearly chose 43 as a safe, school-free age: how funny.

He slept well and woke early the next morning - and went to school, as usual. He had had a great plan - but unfortunately, reality wouldn't oblige. At least, not this time. Maybe it will do so in 36 years time. We will see.

(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 @ 9:26 PM 


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