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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 +

Monday, October 31, 2011

Real Steel - a boy's reflection.

The other day, we took our boys to see Real Steel, the robot boxing film with Hugh Jackman, largely because the younger ones were keen on seeing it. As ever, it was interesting to see how they reacted to it. Tiarnan, five, in particular, was thoughtful, after the film.

“Mummy...”, he began, with a sober air, “not all that is shiny is good.”

Syahidah peered down at him, curious about the meaning of this elusive remark.

Tiarnan gathered that an explanation was required.

“Noisy boy was shiny...but he didn’t even last.”, he observed.

Noisy boy was a robot in Real Steel – a robot that had been promoted as being talented at fighting. In fact, it got absolutely trounced, “shiny” though it was.

It seems clear that Tiarnan had absorbed a very interesting lesson from watching Real Steel. He had come to understand that one should not “judge a book by its cover”. He had taught himself, by observation, that not all is as it seems and that the substance of something may be very different from its appearance. This strikes me as a useful lesson to imbibe – and all the better for being one he taught himself, rather than one in which he was instructed. It is always, without fail, more effective for a child to come to their own understandings, than to be led to them, by “teachers”, I think. The child who thinks things out for themselves, is the child who becomes a good thinker. The child who is “taught” too much, may never learn to think independently. Thus, I am happy to see my own children working life and the world out for themselves: that is how it should be.

There is another side to his thinking which is evident. Tiarnan is forever forming little theories about the world. This remark: “Not all that is shiny is good”, constitutes a mini-theory – a summation of his understanding of the world. In toto, all his observations and theories amount to a nascent world view. It is fascinating to watch him construct this theoretical model of the world, from his lived experience. What is even more fascinating, is that he is doing it entirely himself, since the kinds of things he comes out with are not things in which we instruct him. We let him – as we let all our children – do their own thinking.

I can imagine him remarking to a diamond seeking girlfriend, in decades to come: “Not all that is shiny is good.” I wonder if she will understand what he means?

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:01 PM 

2 Comments:

Blogger Pam Lim said...

This little one seems to be philosophical and a deep thinker. Maybe a lot like you. You are going to have fun raising him. I have one like that. In the teenage years, it blew my mind why I can never catch up with his thoughts as he gets more and more influenced by what he research rather than what I expose him to.

Influence and let him have your values while you can, from the rate he is going, he may leave your span of influence earlier than you can ever imagine.

Have fun - I had and still having mine!

6:27 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. He is a little philosopher. He is constantly coming up with theories about the world and his part in it (as well the parts of all the other parts). He is very interesting to listen to.

I find myself drawing much more pleasure from fatherhood than I had thought possible, before it.

Thanks for your well wishes. You too.

9:34 PM  

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