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, October 01, 2013

The font nerd.

Ainan has always looked at the world in his own way. One of these ways, is a little uncanny.

When Ainan is out and about, he has the habit of pointing at the written script around him – for instance, the sign on a health centre: “That is Trajan”, he says, naming the font used. Or in a restaurant, he will pick up a menu and observe: “That is Palatino Linotype”. 

Everywhere he looks, he sees not just words, but fonts. In a day, he will name many different fonts, as he notes them in the world around him.

He did this, recently, in the company of a noted artist, who was a guest lecturer at an event we attended. He was very surprised when Ainan noted that the font used on a book he had published, was Gill Sans.

“How do you know that?”, asked the dumbfounded artist.

“Oh, he is a prodigy.” My wife answered, intervening, with a shrug, as if that was explanation enough. Ainan himself was silent on the matter – as usual, never commenting on himself, in company.

What I find most interesting about this is what it says about Ainan’s visual perception and visual memory. He is able to identify a huge number of fonts – indeed, any font he has ever seen, and learnt the name of – at a single glance. This suggests that he retains an accurate image of each letter used in the fonts and is able to discriminate the often subtle differences between fonts, with a very rapid glance. He has had no training in typography, or lessons of any kind – but has simply picked up these discriminations on his own.

This phenomenon is just one of many with Ainan, that show him to be a close observer of the world around him. Of course, this ability to observe, remember and distinguish is much more useful in other contexts, than simply labelling the written world in fonts. There are clearly many practical advantages to such observational skill, which lend themselves well to many areas of work, and creation. I have a few ideas of how Ainan might apply this observational skill...but I will leave those for another day.

Written by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:35 PM 


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