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 +

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sensitivity in a child.

Fintan is a sensitive boy. He notices matters of feeling where others would see and feel nothing at all. This receptiveness complements, nicely, his adeptness in social skills – indeed, the two seem closely related, to me.

Long ago, so long that I cannot place a time on it (though I will consult with my wife and see if we can pin it down), Fintan was listening to his mother sing songs, to him, one night.

“Mummy,”, he said, his serious voice emerging from the darkness, “Why do you sing sad songs, at night?”

Syahidah was taken aback. “No, I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”, he said, still serious, indeed, somewhat saddened, it seemed. “Rock a bye baby is a sad song, because the baby falls down.”

He had a point. Syahidah fell silent and decided not to sing that song. I don’t know whether she ever sang it again.

This exchange is so characteristic of Fintan. To my mind, there is a great sweetness in being able to perceive, as Fintan does, the tragedy in a lullaby, or the underlying emotions in any social situation, whether personally witnessed, or described to him, in a story or on a TV: Fintan always sees the feelings at work – and the meanings of it in terms of emotional values.

It occurs to me that these are the kinds of perceptions and skills that no school ever teaches. Indeed, they would probably go unappreciated in any school in the world. No-one cares too much for feeling or its perception. Yet, in truth, such perceptions are of great value: they are what guide us in our relations with the world and they are that on which many a work of art, in any media, is founded. For Fintan to see the world in this way, is a blessing that, I hope, he will fully appreciate when he grows up. The question is: will the world appreciate this gift, in him, or overlook it? Will the wonder why he is moved, when he is so? Will people think him overly sensitive? Will they regard that as an asset, or a burden?

Whatever the world might think of Fintan’s ways, I know him to be blessed. For Fintan sees emotional riches in the world that others cannot see at all. That means that Fintan’s world is more alive, more layered and more meaningful than the world of those who do not see, as he does. That can only be a good thing.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:50 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is unrelated, but I recently came across two links regarding technology and the future and thought you might be interested if you haven't seen them already.

IBM computer vs Jeopardy contestants:


1:38 AM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

Thanks Safireau, for the links.

I have had the chance to look at the Time Magazine one. Hmm...I don't see that as a happy future. I am a bit saddened, personally, at the idea that humans might be superseded intellectually by machines. There is a risk that it might make our greatest achievements seem meaningless when set against theirs.

I am OK if machines because as "intelligent" as humans...but not happy if they become as "creative" as humans. Intelligence, per se, doesn't really impress me. However, should they be able to write books, sonnets, symphonies, do science, and art better than humans, I would think it a great tragedy for Mankind, in a way. We might lose our sense of purpose as a race.

I will take a look at the other article sometime.

Thank you.

3:50 PM  

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