The Real Business of School

by Rick on June 7, 2021

The Pandemic is teaching us (or has taught us, or would be teaching us, if our minds are open) that the real business of school is social-emotional intelligence. Young children already know it. Ask a five or six-year-old what they are looking forward to in school and they will say: “friends.” These days we should already have learned how to teach academics virtually. What’s missing is the challenges of other people.

Four-year-old Larry was a little challenged when teacher Margaret suggested that he and Walter  go the block area and build something.  It was the first day of school, and he was a little scared to be thrown together with someone he didn’t know. Read More…


Can Spanking Cause PTSD?

by Rick on May 7, 2021

The Body Keeps the Score
               by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

The Score My Body Keeps
by Rick Ackerly

I had forgotten
Your painful gaze,
Hairbrush in hand,
Over my bare bottom
Poised to remind me
How bad I am
And how it hurts you
More than it hurts me.

I had forgotten.
But, though seventy years have passed,
My body cannot forget that I’m a mess,
And I spend each minute trying to prove
You and Dad wrong.

Who me? That wasn’t me.
Oh, that. That’s not my fault.
The ice cream on the floor
I was gonna clean it up.
The broken plate?
It wasn’t me.
I’m not a crazy, mixed-up kid.

I get things done
I get there first
I make it work
I’m never late
I’ll show you
I’ll show you
I’ll show you.

Pain’s not something I avoid.
I do it to my body all the time.
When someone causes pain to someone else,
I always close my eyes.

Might spanking a two-year-old have similar impacts on the brain as bigger violence to a bigger person?





Why Don’t They Listen to Me?

by Rick on April 23, 2021

Walking down the sidewalk with three grandsons, the 9-year-old always walks balancing on the curb. His 6-year-old brother follows, and the 11-year-old walks ahead with the adults.

What do their parents say? Right, they pull from their toolbox of:

“Please get back on the sidewalk.”
“Get back on the sidewalk. That’s too dangerous.”
“Don’t do that! It makes me nervous.”
“Get off the curb, please. You are setting a bad example for your little brother.”
Or, the angry rhetorical: “Why do you keep doing that?”

Well, why do they keep doing that?” Read More…



by Rick on April 15, 2021

by Kathleen O’Hara

And maybe it’s only this:
We. Emerging on amphibious legs.
Rising from ponds, shaking off from our skins
weeds and water.
Climbing ashore, and crawling;
swiping the luck of the draw out of hands that
do the dealing
and building from sand, a fiction:
a believable story
where all children grow strong and the land
goes un-plundered,
where a heart
is where the home is, where home is where
we’ll always be. A place on a green earth where we are
never cold, never broken,
where we lie in our stillness, riveted
to our truest feeling
and we pulse with the planets
and we are safe
to walk
alone in the night.

We’ll find ourselves ourselves;
annulled of doubt, saturated in the grace of random goodness.
Our sudden arms muscled with gratitude, we are reaching
for a sunlight
that doesn’t blind us to each other that doesn’t
burn us into cancer, but with
its sturdy brightness
unfolds us into
the strength that we share, enfolds us into
the warmth of belonging.







There is no polite way to suggest to someone that they have devoted their life to folly—Daniel Dennett

In 1943, Ann Lake was born into a prominent Washington, D.C. family. She was expected to be good. She didn’t dare be otherwise. Her single mom had a temper, and Ann tried hard not to upset her. If she didn’t cry, complain, or express any negative emotion there was a chance she wouldn’t be punished. The law of the land: Be positive. Read More…