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, April 05, 2011

Schools that stifle the life of a child.

Children should be filled with abundant energy. They should have a need to create, to do, to move, to speak, to be. A child is not, and should not ever be, something akin to a mannequin – yet that is precisely what some schools seem to want from them.

Recently, a family friend who is endeavouring to get her child into an international school in Malaysia, found out something rather peculiar concerning the British International School in Kuala Lumpur. She learnt that this school penalizes children who fidget or move about, in any way, during the entrance exam into the first year of the Primary school. The British International School actually MARKS DOWN little kids who don’t sit still enough, during exams. I found this revelation to be profoundly disturbing for what it says about the school’s attitude towards children and its seemingly rather poor understanding of them.

It seems that many modern schools want children not to be children. They want them, instead, to be statues, that sit in silence, and imbibe knowledge passively and correctly and regurgitate it, on command, in exams, to bring praises on the school, for their wonderful performance.

Many children learn by doing, not by listening passively. They need to DO things, to move and interact with the world. Such children will not do well in a school that requires immobility from them.

To my mind, a school that wants stillness from children, is a school that does not want to deal with how children really are. It is a school that wants children to behave in a compliant manner for its own convenience. To me, such a school seems too like a prison for comfort.

Just reflect on what the British International School is doing. It is penalizing students for a desire to move. Thus, a bright, but undesirably mobile child, will find themselves marked down. It is possible therefore that a less bright, but compulsively still, unmoving child will end up with “higher” marks. Thus, it is that the brighter pupil might not get a place and the duller pupil would be offered one. The overall tendency would be for the school to be filled with obedient, still, even inactive children, who conform to the required social behaviours. I don’t know about you, but to me, such unmoving, compliant conformity fills me with a kind of psychological horror that is very difficult to shake off. I certainly would not wish any of my children to attend a school which places such importance on the controllability and immobility of children.

Now, I don’t know what the exam policy is for other international schools in Malaysia, or elsewhere. It may be that the British International School is not alone in this strangely stifling policy. If you know of anywhere else that implements such penalties for a child’s movement, please let me know, below. Thank you.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:08 PM 


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