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 +

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The adult world, from the point of view of a child.

Tiarnan is 7. Though pretty young by most standards, he has clear views on many things. April 2nd was a case in point.

Tiarnan sidled up to me as I sat at my computer desk.

“Why do some countries like to fight?”, he began, clearly grappling with the sheer puzzle of it.

“Because they think they can get something by fighting.”, I answered, quite simply, while I appraised his reaction.

Tiarnan laughed, without the hint of a delay:  “They will never get anything by fighting.”

“The Americans fought in the Middle East, because they wanted oil.”, I countered, more to expand the conversation, than to contradict his view.

“Why do they want oil?” Tiarnan, began. “They have legs. They can just walk to places.”

There was something in him that was aghast at the whole idea. He seemed to think the Americans were being very silly, indeed.

I thought his understanding was wonderfully apt, so I let the matter stand unanswered.

What strikes me as funny about this is that, from the point of view of a child, the adult world can seem very silly. The things adults do just don’t seem to be rational, when approached with the clarity a bright child is able to bring to the situation. They have a very uncluttered view of the world and see, in some ways, the core that adults learn to overlook. In a way, it is silly that we have built our world to be dependent on artificial transport systems, when we have a natural one at our disposal. It is silly that we design our cities such that long distance driving is required to get everything we need to live, instead of living locally, with all our needs in easy reach – on foot. Modern adults have, in some ways, designed a very silly world in which to live – and a young child can see that. I must say, though, that it is refreshing to hear it said.

Of course, once the world’s oil runs out – which will probably happen without a viable replacement to hand, then the silliness of the world we have built will become clear, not only to our children, but to all. Then, perhaps, we will, indeed, use our legs, to do what they were meant to do: put the world within our reach. It is going to be a sobering shock for most people – yet that is the world that is promised to come, on the basis of one unavoidable fact: our oil reserves are finite and running out fast.

Yet, I can’t help but note that the end of oil is likely to result in behaviour which would meet with Tiarnan’s disapproval: resource wars fought over the remaining crumbs of oil. My little son wouldn’t be impressed.

It is funny to note that if the world were designed by children, it would be both simpler and somehow, potentially, nicer – at least if designed by Tiarnan. His world is a world without war, lived locally at a gentle pace. It is not such a bad place to consider.

Thank you Tiarnan, for showing me your understanding of how the world should be.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:35 PM 


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