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, May 19, 2011

Creative students need support, too.

I wrote a letter to the New Straits Times a couple of weeks ago, in response to their front page story about scholarships being given to students with perfect grades. My letter pointed out a problem with this system. Not surprisingly, perhaps, my letter has not been published, so far and, since delays in publishing are usually not so long, I am going to assume that it is not going to be published. Thus, I have reproduced it, below.

So, my readers, what do you think? Do you agree that conventional scholarship criteria overlook the most creative students? Are we rewarding the dull but diligent with such a system? Are the truly brilliant being overlooked? Let me know what you think, in the comments. Thanks.

Don’t forget that creative students need support, too.

I read the recent news, in the NST, that all top scoring SPM students were to be given PSD scholarships. Now, this is very good news, for such students, but I couldn’t help but feel that something is being overlooked: creative students.

Creative people are not, by definition, quite like other people. One of the ways in which they differ, is that creative students are liable to be less interested in achieving perfect scores in examinations, than non-creative students. This might have something to do with the obvious fact that, in most examinations, there is little room for creativity. It is not, therefore, an inherently attractive proposition for creative students. A scholarship system which only rewards students with perfect grades is likely to be sifting out those with the most interesting minds.

Might I suggest a modification to this system, to include an assessment of the creativity of student applicants? Perhaps those who can demonstrate creativity in their lives, could be excused the need for perfect grades and still receive a scholarship, to allow them to study what they wish to, in the areas of their creative interest – even if, society sees those subjects as less “useful”, than other more traditional choices. Such a system, would encourage just the kind of creative society that would help Malaysia achieve higher income and greater cultural significance on the global stage.

The best minds, are not necessarily the best students. This should be considered by those who decide upon whom to reward and support. The best students may, in fact, just be the most diligent ones – and not the most intelligent or creative. The best thinkers are likely to be overlooked by the current system, not only in education, but in society itself. If this can be understood and acted upon, Malaysia would most certainly have a better future.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:10 AM 


Blogger virginiagunawan said...

Hi Valentine.

I've been thinking about this issue lately as well. A lot of my friends are aiming for medicine, and to be honest, it's very likely for them to be accepted based on their diligence. I'm not saying that's wrong, but it's a pity that the people who are out-of-the-box thinkers are often overlooked.

If schools would give more appreciation towards those students, I think it can change the way we perceive 'top students' forever.

Although it can be quite risky to give scholarship to students when they get really low mark, as there's no guarantee that those students will keep on being authentic later on. It's not like schools can take their scholarship if they fail the classes, because their marks are not the reason they get scholarship. It can work for really creative and authentic students though, I think.

People who stand out from the crowd, who dare to be different, are underrated and it can alter their self confidence. With societies supporting them, I hope they are able to express more of their creativity.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Schools, in general, in my view, are not run intelligently. The traditional school approach is inimical to creativity and creative students: such students are just not appreciated. So, I see no likelihood that the school system will listen to my suggestion or implement it - however I still must make it in the hope that they might wake up.

Schools are not places for genius. They are for the more ordinary students to learn what geniuses once said.

Best wishes.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also believe that hard-working students who achieve good grades deserve to receive scholarships.

However, many students are overlooked by a system that only rewards students with good grades. Creative students often need more support than they are receiving.

There's another group of people which comes to mind. Take the student from a low-income family. S/he has to work in order to help pay the bills. Most likely there are other obligations too. Thus there is less time to devote to studying. If this person did not have to work s/he would be able to achieve better grades and thus qualify for a scholarship. Such students are also overlooked by the current system. Generally the scholarships favour those who have enough time for their studies and as a result receive good grades. This might be someone who already comes from a family where money is not an issue.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I would agree, Laktosefrei, that poor students who have to hold down jobs, are at a disadvantage in school and thus may be overlooked.

There is an argument here for an holistic assessment of each student's life circumstances, when considering scholarships. However, it would require a lot of investment of time and care from the establishment and that is not likely to happen.

re. diligence: yes it is a good quality BUT if you are trying to select the brightest, under the present system, you are likely to end up with the most diligent instead. Is that what you want? It is worth reflecting on.

9:27 AM  

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