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, March 06, 2012

Childhood stories, in the eyes of a child.

A few days ago, my wife Syahidah, told a story to her youngest son, Tiarnan, 6. The story was not a happy one. It was about a cruel old woman, who didn’t feed her cat, until the cat’s fur started to fall out. Eventually, the cat died of starvation.

On finishing the story, Syahidah looked expectantly at Tiarnan for a reaction. She expected him to empathize with the cat and be unhappy with the old woman.

Tiarnan looked thoughtful.

Did the old woman have enough food for herself in the first place?”, he enquired, gently, of his surprised mother.

That was a thought that had not occurred to her. Tiarnan had come upon his own alternative interpretation of the possible story behind the events described.

His face grew even more intent.

Also did the fur really fall out because of the lack of food? I see Mochi and Sushi pulling each other’s fur out.

Mochi and Sushi are our female rabbits.

These two little thoughts, of Tiarnan’s left Syahidah rather impressed. They showed that Tiarnan wasn’t accepting the story at face value – at the value the writing of the story was trying to lead him to hold. No. Tiarnan was re-examining the story for other possible explanations and seeing in it, other reasons for why the events had unfolded as they had – reasons which absolved the old woman of personal blame and shifted the blame onto unfortunate circumstances, instead.

Tiarnan’s thinking, here, showed both creativity and critical analysis – and the ability to form his own view, apart from any view he was being led to believe. These are hopeful characteristics and bespeak the growth of an independent mind likely to hold its own views, no matter what the majority says. His is a young mind likely to grow into an original thinker, irrespective of what might commonly be believed.

What is most indicative of a creative mind at work, here, is that he did not accept the view he was being led to hold, but examined the situation for himself, testing it against his own understanding of the possibilities. He thought it through for himself, coming to his own conception of what was happening, or at least his own consideration of what might have been happening. He used his imagination for what the possible underlying truths might be. In doing so he was forming theories of motivation and circumstance, to explain observed behaviour - theories which were not stated in the story, but which he inferred would explain the observed actions, if they were operant. This is both quite complex thinking and creative, too, for he needed to invent possible explanations and reality test them for explanatory and predictive value, given his understanding of human behavioural possibilities. I would characterize this thinking as independent, mature, creative and insightful...and that is rather heartening to note in one just six years old.

Tiarnan is showing a very interesting blend of characteristics, in his thinking, in his personality and in the way he does things. His is a very complex young mind, in many ways, with multiple unexpected dispositions held in one mind. I will elucidate on these characteristics over time, in other posts – just let it be said, here, that Tiarnan promises to become a deep and subtle young man, one day.

In the meantime, as he grows up, he will, no doubt, be able to teach his mother, alternative ways of seeing the childhood stories she tells him. I wonder who will learn more, the son or the mother?

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:54 PM 


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