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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 +

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The despair of an artist.

An artist chooses a life without a predictable outcome. No artist can possibly know whether or not they will succeed in their own lifetime, at the outset of their career. Thus, it is that artists must gamble on a success that may never come. This leads some to despair, when their long sought recognition does not come, in the passing of the decades.

Many years ago, I was invited to an art exhibition. The work was pretty good, in its own way, though not my kind of work. I studied each piece with self-conscious care, for a very good reason. You see, the artworks were by a recently deceased artist, who was the father of my, then, girlfriend’s landlady. I studied each work with particular care to show my respect. The artist had, in fact, committed suicide, in despair at the recognition which had never come to him.

I have never forgotten that evening. What marked it out for me was the gaze of my girlfriend’s landlady. She looked not on her father’s works, which were, no doubt, very familiar to her, but on the guests. She scrutinized each and every face, to see their reactions to her father’s work. She wanted to see that they liked it, that his life’s work had some meaning for them. There was a sadness in her, a watchfulness and an expectancy which had a flavour all of its own. This art exhibition had been organized by her, to let the world see her father’s work. In a way, she was trying to give him in death, what he had lacked in life: recognition. The venue was a very slick one. I remember that well. It had the air of “high art” about it. So she was really trying to ensure that his work would be seen in the right way. There were many people there that night – so she had managed to get a good turn out, too. I studied my girlfriend’s landlady as much as I studied the art. There was something very vulnerable about her. She really needed everyone to enjoy her father’s art. She really needed, in a kind of desperate way, for his work to have meant something.

It was a very sad thing to have to watch. She was trying to do for her father, in death, what life had never done for him. Perhaps she felt she should have tried sooner, whilst he had been alive. Perhaps she felt that what she did now, was too late. The exhibition was her gift to her father – it was also an act of mourning.

Recognition often comes slowly to artists. There are so many artists in the world, each competing for attention, that it is quite easy to be overlooked at first – or even for a very long time, indeed. It is a cliché that an artist should be discovered after death – but that does happen, as we all know. Quite a few artists made modest names, if at all, during their lifetimes, and only grew to legends after death. Perhaps that was what motivated my girlfriend’s landlady’s father to commit suicide – perhaps he saw it as a career move, a means to propel himself to fame.

It should not be this way. All artists should be recognized and supported during their lifetimes. The only way this could happen is if the means to create a name for oneself, were more immediately accessible – the galleries, the magazines and the newspapers. Yet, they are not accessible, and have limited slots available. There is also the matter of taste. Sometimes, innovative work is overlooked, because it does not conform to the tastes of the time: it is only much later, sometimes long after the death of an artist, when tastes change, that people are able to appreciate work. So, that, too, is a factor. There needs to be some means to recognize work independent of the tastes of the time – and that seems an almost incurable condition.

The only practical answer to all of this is for the artist themselves to become immune to the response to their work. An artist should learn to work on, irrespective of the response to their work and to be content whether or not it is accepted. This is the only solution to this age old problem. The artist must learn not to care for success and recognition – for only then will they not miss them, and despair over them, should they not be forthcoming in a reasonable time frame.

I realize that this is a difficult solution. I am proposing that artist’s create without thought of success. Yet, that is what a true artist would do – create because they have to. Perhaps that is why some artists built great oeuvres despite a lack of worldly success: they did so, because they had to. They created because to do otherwise would destroy them.

No artist should kill themselves because they are not being recognized. The answer to that situation is to continue to create good work and to continue to try to reach out and show the work. If luck is with the artist, recognition will come, some day. Despair must not be entertained – for to yield to it, is to destroy all the potential the artist has – and, despite my girlfriend’s landlady’s father’s possible motivation, that is never a good career move, and does not enhance the likelihood of recognition in any way.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175

To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/

Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:44 PM  2 comments

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On coping with rejection.

The biggest difference between those who succeed in life, and those who fail, is in how they cope with rejection. Some are spurred on by it – others are destroyed by it.

Today, I stumbled on an Internet reference to an Indian Singaporean boy who had shown significant precocity as a child. At the age of 12 or so, he was doing A level exams. He seemed set for a great future. Then he applied for Cambridge, with three A levels in hand...and got rejected. Now, this boy, who had been consumed every day of his young life by Maths and Physics, was totally disheartened by this. He gave up his studies of Maths and Physics. No details were given as to his mental state, but I imagine, from the way he behaved, that he was depressed. He no longer pursued his interests. They no longer seemed to interest him. His relative described him, at the age of 15, as having “lost both his interest and his ability” in both Maths and Physics. He no longer showed precocity. He had become “ordinary”.

It was saddening to read of this case, because I can only say, from my own experience of Cambridge University, that this boy’s rejection from it, may actually have been a good thing. As a young boy, in Cambridge, he would have faced a daunting level of stress and pressure. This may have been damaging and is likely to have been much more than he was prepared to cope with. Looking at his very stark reaction to a simple rejection, I cannot imagine it being even remotely possible that he could cope with life in such a pressured, demanding University. He has given up his life dream simply because one University said: “No.” That is profoundly silly, in its own way. Cambridge reject many good candidates every year...even some great ones slip through, no doubt. They do so, because they are oversubscribed – they are overflowing with good candidates to choose from. Another issue which this young boy seems to have overlooked, is his own age. I am sure that Cambridge is not keen to take on a young boy. They probably rejected him not for his grades (which admittedly were good, but not as good as most candidates), but because of his AGE. They probably didn’t want to cope with the challenges of taking on a thirteen year old, as he would probably have been by the time of admission.

This boy, of such great promise, has given up everything because he could not get into the University of his choice. In so doing, he is showing that he is unable to cope with rejection. Thus, though it is a shame that his talent may now never flower, I can’t help but feel that anybody who gives up, on one rejection, is not going to be able to cope with the difficulties of life. If it hadn’t been Cambridge rejecting him, that stopped him, it would have been something else. For all his evident intelligence and diligence, this boy lacks resilience – the ability to cope with adversity. Thus, whatever the size of his talent the likely dimensions of his success, are going to be limited by this failing. He will never be able to overcome challenges, until he learns to cope with rejection and be resilient in the face of life.

I hope he learns the skill of resilience and the toughness to cope with rejection. If he does not, there is no way this boy is going to achieve the heights his basic intellect and diligence promised. His descent into what seems like depression holds a lesson for all parents of gifted children: do not let your child be put off by a rejection – or indeed, many rejections . People are often rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with their talent. Such decisions should not be allowed to crush a child, but should just be used as a lesson in how life does not always go smoothly or according to our ideal wishes. All children need to learn to overcome such challenges. Children who don’t, are unlikely to ever succeed, no matter how intelligent they are.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175

To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/

Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:48 PM  2 comments

Monday, November 28, 2011

The value of IQ points.

There is a legend that IQ doesn’t matter beyond 120. It is commonly told – though never with a stated source, in my experience – that once a person has an IQ of 120 or more, that additional IQ points have no real world value. The legend has it that someone with an IQ of 150 or 180 is no more likely to succeed than someone with an IQ of 120. This may be widely believed...but it is simply not true.

How much difference do you think 11 IQ points would make to life outcomes and achievements? It is a small difference in intelligence, comparatively speaking, given the huge range in human intelligence that exists. Many people would consider that it would have little value. A recent study by Vanderbilt University researchers David Lubinksi and Camilla Benbow begs to differ. They studied 2,000 intellectually precocious kids who scored in the top 1 per cent of the SAT at the age of 13. The SAT is, in effect, a form of IQ test. Thus it is a good proxy for a measure of intelligence. Lubinski and Benbow compared the life outcomes of those kids who scored at the 99.1 percentile level with those who scored at or above the 99.9 percentile. Now, that seems like a modest difference – but it corresponds to an IQ difference of 11 points (136 IQ compared to 147). At this point, I would like you to imagine what kind of difference in life outcomes the researchers found, for these two IQ thresholds. Please actually make a list, if you can of differences, if any. Perhaps you think they will be very similar.

Well, rather remarkably, Lubinski and Benbow found that children of IQ 147 and above, were three to five times more likely than those of IQ 136, to secure a patent, in their lifetime; to publish an article in a scientific journal, to publish a literary work, or to go on to achieve a doctorate. These are quite startling observations – that just 11 points of IQ could make so much difference to creative outcomes. How much more difference might 30 points of IQ make or 50? It is quite clear that IQ does contribute, in a very real way, to the likelihood of significant intellectual achievements. Being “smarter” counts for something.

There is value in this finding. Quite often, gifted kids are not given the support they need – particularly the most gifted – in education systems. They are not treasured, but neglected. There is great loss to a nation, in such indifference – for the most intelligent children are always – and ever shall be – the ones who could contribute the most to their societies, if given the right support and opportunity. Every IQ point makes a difference, to the possibilities of a child’s future. The brightest children can, one day, become the greatest adults – if they are allowed to be.

Don’t neglect the future of your country. Nurture the gifted among you – and remember just how much difference a few IQ points can make to the creative output of a life.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.

To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html

If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html

If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175

To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/

Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 2:51 PM  7 comments

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