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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, November 28, 2010

Analyzing Hollywood's social rules.

About six weeks ago, or so, Tiarnan was watching a TV series, with us. It was a fairly tame and "safe" programme, for our children to watch, with us, largely speaking. However, one dramatic moment led to an interesting series of observations from Tiarnan, four.

A young man and woman on the screen suddenly kissed each other. It wasn't a long kiss or an overly emphatic one, but Tiarnan had already learnt the rules of the house and knew that what might follow was not for him to watch.

He piped up then, in his high little voice: "I knew that was going to happen.", he declared, looking up at his mummy, on whose lap he sat.

"Why?", she asked, softly, knowing that his reasoning is likely to be far more interesting than his observation.

"Because there was a boy and a girl alone in a room, together.", he said. "They always kiss."

He was very serious as he spoke, his analytical mind at work, assessing the onscreen behaviour of Hollywood "people".

"What if a girl and a girl are in a room, then?", asked Syahidah, without the smile she no doubt felt like making.

"Oh. Then they just talk.", said Tiarnan, with certainty.

"How about a boy and a boy?"

"Just talk.", he repeated, with a nod.

We both found the way he had summed up Hollywood character behaviour rather interesting. For a start, he was right: out of all the shows he had seen - been allowed to see - that was precisely the pattern of behaviour of the characters on screen. He had not seen any gay characters, of either sex. So, the laws of behaviour that he had derived are accurate. What is also of interest is that Tiarnan had developed the ability to predict what was going to happen on screen, from the elements of the scene: who was in shot, in relation to who else was or was not in shot. To my mind, this is very revealing of how he is coming to understand the social world. Tiarnan is actually inferring and deducing laws of behaviour. He is constructing social patterns, from his Hollywood experiences. Given this, of course, I am led to feel an even greater responsibility over what material he watches - because I would not want him to start inferring incorrect rules of behaviour, or ones that reflected too much a poor set of values with which I don't agree.

Another lesson from this conversation is that Hollywood is influential in much more subtle ways than whether it shows sex or violence. Children might be learning such things as social behaviour from Hollywood films - or how adults are supposed to interact. Thus it is one needs to be even more watchful over the kinds of viewing experiences they have. What they might be learning from the shows, might not be what is obvious at all. Tiarnan is learning about the rules of the social world, from Hollywood fiction: I wonder what else he is learning from it?

I will have to watch and listen to him with care, on the matter. Perhaps there are more surprises to be found.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:25 PM 

6 Comments:

Blogger agas said...

hi mr cawley, he's absolutely a bright boy. So I think as a parent, you should give extra care on this. There are 2 possibility from this.
1. He may think on the positive side ("it's not good so I won't do this")
2. He may be influenced by them

so, I think with the right guidance from you guys this -(ve) side won't influence him. It is very nice to get such bright kids but it is a hard task to guide them. I always think on this when I think someday I'm gonna be a parent.LOL

12:22 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes: with brightness, comes a certain difficulty in parenting. There are additional cognitive and perceptual dangers with such children in that they can see, understand and perhaps be influenced by things, which other children might miss. Thus, caution is advised in what experiences they are allowed to have and at what ages.

He seems to be doing OK so far...but we need to be watchful, I think, as you note.

Good luck on being a parent, yourself, one day!

1:06 PM  
OpenID safireau said...

double post

9:09 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. It is a double, Safireau...but I dare not try to correct it, by deleting the post, lest I delete both...So I will leave it. (The comments would get lost too...)

I have no idea how it happened...but it has. Thanks for pointing it out.

7:15 PM  
OpenID safireau said...

You've mentioned previously about losing posts/having difficulties with Blogger. You might want to try first writing in a text document such as Notepad (Start->Accessories->Notepad if you have Windows)and saving a backup copy prior to posting.

This works in reverse as well. You can also copy/paste previous posts into Notepad. (Highlight the desired words with your mouse. Press the buttons CTRL and C (Copy). Then click your cursor to the text document and press CTRL and V(Paste).

2:21 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the tip, Safireau. It would save me having to rewrite and repost on occasions. Cheers.

3:27 PM  

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