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, February 16, 2012

How to be an individual.

A couple of days ago, my youngest son, Tiarnan, 6, gave us all a lesson in how to be an individual.

His mother, Syahidah, was chatting to him about his school life and his friends. She remarked that one of his friends did something she thought was interesting and asked:

“Why don’t you do that, too?”

“I don’t like to COPY!”, he sat, his face suddenly catching fire, with an inner fury at the very idea. “I DON’T COPY!”, he snapped.

She was surprised at the vehemence of his reply but was impressed, too. For in his instant retort, there lay a big, fat clue as to Tiarnan’s nature: he prizes originality. Now, Tiarnan may only be 6 years old, but he is a very individual six year old. He is very much himself and himself alone. Without realizing it, he revealed one of those reasons, in his outburst: he resists imitating his friends. What they do, he deliberately does not do. He seeks to do his own thing, uninfluenced by others. He resists influence, in a world in which most of his young colleagues at school, quite actively seek influence.

I think individuality is very important. It is key to being an interesting person and key to doing anything original in the world. There never was a genius, who was not also very much an individual. I think the phrase “conformist genius” would be a contradiction in terms. To be a genius, or a creative person of merely talented dimensions, you have to be a non-conformist individual – someone who seeks to be themselves in a world that seeks, too often, to be all alike.

I am encouraged by Tiarnan’s vituperative response to his mother’s question. It speaks of a strong need to be an individual – one which will serve him well, should he ever choose to pursue a creative endeavour as an adult – for nothing is more important in a creative field, than that one is an individual.

Carry on being yourself, Tiarnan...even if vehemently so!

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:12 PM 


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