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, May 22, 2012

Singapore’s mentally destructive education system.

A few weeks ago, my son Ainan was clearly in reverie. He looked up at me, then, a question in his eyes.

“Can doing nothing for a long period hurt your brain?”

“ Yes.”

“ Then Singapore hurt my brain...for years I would get up early, go to a building, do nothing all day and come home late with no time to do anything else.”

I had to agree. Singapore had forced Ainan to go to Primary school, even though he had mastered O level standard work, already. It was a stupid act, of a stupid education system, guided by stupid people. They just wouldn’t let us home school him, despite us asking repeatedly. They seemed to feel a need to control his growing mind, to not let it be free to grow as we would guide it. Finally, of course, we escaped Singapore altogether. Our answer to their not giving us permission to home school him, was to emigrate from the country altogether.

What Singapore has never learnt, and probably never shall learn, is that you cannot constrict the people. You cannot force them into boxes in which they don’t belong. Any attempt to do so, will result in those people leaving the country. Singapore’s education system seems to have a wish to limit its children in certain ways, and constrain them into certain conventional, preordained categories of function. Anything which exceeds those norms, is not handled well – despite the existence of the “Gifted Branch”, of the Ministry of Education.

For several years, Singapore prevented Ainan’s mental growth, by placing him in a situation in which there was nothing to learn, quite literally nothing to learn. Primary school had nothing to offer Ainan – for he had already mastered its content, before he had even joined it. It was a complete waste of time. Ainan found it completely mind numbing. He was beyond bored in his Primary school. The only respite was the chance to play with his friends. Other than that, the school had nothing to offer him at all. It was completely switching his mind off. Yet, the system would not let us free him of it. They forced him to be there against his will and against his best interests. They were interested, it seemed, primarily in two things: control and observation. The Gifted Branch had a huge file on Ainan containing reports which had come from everyone in the education system who had contact with him. Thus, his school was not a school at all. It was an observation chamber, a surveillance system – a means to monitor this unusual young child – for what reasons, was never declared. They were not there however, and were never there, to actually help him grow intellectually. They were there, it seemed at times, to hamper him, in every way they could. They could not have behaved more obstructively had they been specifically instructed to obstruct him – which perhaps they had, given some of the things they did, which did not make any sense, unless their purposes were obstructive.

Singapore is a place for the average person. If a child is born, on that tiny island, who surpasses intellectual norms, in any significant way, they are likely to find the system less than completely understanding of the situation. Singapore did its best to frustrate Ainan’s development, in any way it could. The only significant provisions we secured for him, were arranged by ourselves and not by the “Gifted Branch”. Had we done nothing and let the system take care of Ainan, they would have completely destroyed his developing mind – for as Ainan suspected, doing nothing harms the mind.

We saved Ainan from Singapore’s mandated destruction, by resisting the system and making our own arrangements. Life has turned out well for him, as a result. He is enjoying his courses at Taylor’s University and is learning many different things. We managed to secure him what he needed – but we did so only by escaping a system that was determined to do as little as possible for him.

Singapore doesn’t make great people. Singapore breaks great people. Great people threaten the essential mediocrity of the “system”. So the system does it best to thwart them. That, at least, is the impression of its purpose, operation and intent that we garnered, from our exposure to the “Gifted Branch”.

As I once asked a Gifted Branch officer, who was denying our requests for practical chemistry classes for Ainan. “What is the Gifted Branch for?”

She had no answer, but just sat in silence.

I asked the question again: “What is the Gifted Branch for?”

She didn’t answer me.

From our experience with them, I very much doubt that the true intent of the Gifted Branch is to nurture its gifted children to its best ability. However, the thick file they had on Ainan does indicate that another purpose seems more likely. The Gifted Branch appears to wish to monitor the gifted children, in keep tabs on them. So, if you want your child monitored, on a daily basis, by every educator they encounter, please contact the Gifted Branch, and become involved with them. If, however, you want your child to grow up free of total surveillance...have nothing to do with them, at all. You are not losing anything, because the Gifted Branch interventions are worthless, in our experience. All they will do is frustrate you in every way they can.

If you have a truly gifted child, Singapore will not provide for them. You will have to go elsewhere. Like we, do so.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:37 PM 


Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am not posting your comment Seafarings+ because you are too ignorant of Ainan's accomplishments, making your remarks incredibly inappropriate.

Firstly, Ainan has achieved qualifications in and studies in, at levels up to tertiary, in Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Biology, Economics, History, English, Computer Programming and Computer Animation. In addition he has taught himself the piano and musical composition and does both regularly at home. He is not, as you imagine, just someone with qualifications in Physics and Chemistry. He is much more than that.

Furthermore, he has done research and co-authored two papers based on work he did when he was 8. He is also the youngest person to make a scientific discovery.

Really, you should do more research before commenting. I presume you are from Singapore, because Singapore has kept news of his accomplishments out of its media, in recent years. So Singaporeans don't know about him.

2:23 PM  

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