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THE GENIUS IN CHILDREN - Encouraging Character, Curiosity, and Creativity in Children by Rick Ackerly

Thoughts for a New Year

by Rick on December 25, 2020

Solstice 12212020
Jupiter and Saturn came together for dinner today,
hoping for a meeting of the minds by sunset.

Saturn: Thank you for coming, my boy.

Jupiter: Thank you for inviting me, Dad. I was hoping you would. Things have been looking pretty grim on earth, and I felt we needed to talk. I mean, I thought we were doing so well: reduction in world hunger, fewer people dying in wars, people wising up about taking care of the planet themselves…. Do you think I’ve been too harsh?

S: Not really, Sometimes you have to hit humans hard on the head to get their attention. 

J: Frogs born with missing limbs, that was a nice touch, right?

S: Yes, and the murder hornets got some people’s attention. 

J: So, you are okay with me ramping up the cyclones and hurricanes? And those fires… I was really proud of the orange sky. That must have gotten some people to do some thinking, don’t you think?

S: Absolutely! blotting out the sun really woke some people up. I heard some people say, “It’s the end of the world!”

 They both laughed.

J: Do you think they could see how many of the problems they were causing, themselves?

S: Well, you know people. Some got it, some didn’t. Some still don’t.    I know.    It’s frustrating. But some people began to see some of the problems they were causing: children in cages, fruitless arguments, distortions of truth, murderous policemen, arrogant, tyrannical leaders….

J: Yes, I’m glad they didn’t blame me. I’m doing my best with the mess you made creating those messy creatures. I always thought it was all  part of your plan.

S: What do you mean?

J: Well, you made them really good at so many things, including loving their own children…

S:I know, but all of my creatures do that.

J: Yes, but they started getting better and better at using that love of others,… for strangers. Used to be, they would kill strangers. Used to be that one third of all deaths were at the hands of another human. But today, that happens so rarely. They have been getting better at accepting others—at least not killing them. Look at wars. It’s so like you to look at the glass half-empty, but look at it now. It’s not just half full—it’s way more than half full. As the numbers have gone up (7.5 billion, today, right?) the numbers of people killed in wars is almost negligible, next to nothing in the greater scheme of things.

S: It’s so upsetting, though. I’ve often felt that I made a terrible mistake creating creatures that create. 

J: Yes, but you gave them empathy, and their oxytocin is flowing more and more.

S: I know, but it’s so upsetting how slow it’s going: Fascism seems to be on the rise again, all over the world. I loved it when English policemen didn’t even carry guns. Now it seems everybody feels they have to have at least one gun. And ignorance, anxiety, insomnia, depression, suicide are in epidemic proportions in America—America! I was so hopeful for America—a new start in a new land.

J: True, but I thought that is why you sent that new virus—the one they call “Covid-19.” Yes, it has killed humans—almost 2 million so far— but this common enemy seems to have brought them all together. That was brilliant, Dad. Never before have all the humans—all 7.5 billion of them—worried about the same thing, all of them working toward a common purpose. Everyone seems to be obsessed with that virus. It was a brilliant move.

S: Thanks, but now what do we do?

J: I say we wait. We have done enough. Let’s see what happens.

S: You’re right. 

J: It’s the solstice. The darkest days are over. Time to see what a new year brings.

S: Right. Time to wait. Time to wait and see.

Then a pensive silence fell over them. The winter solstice was drawing to a close. As the sun set, these two gods—the one responsible for all creation and wellbeing and the one who tries to keep humans on their right path—slid their chairs together on Mount Olympus. Then, after a long silence, Saturn spoke:

S: I had such hopes for this new century.

J: Your hopes, were well founded, Dad. We are only 20% into it, and already, the tragic flaws that you built in have been dramatically exposed. I believe the last twenty years raised people’s consciousness again—just like the Black Death did 650 years ago. I think we are ready for another renaissance. Just wait and see. We can take a rest now. 

S: I guess you are right.

J: Can I stay here, tonight? 

S: Sure, I was hoping you would.

J: I’ll get back to work in the morning.

S: I know you will, my boy. Sleep tight. And you know what? We should meet more often. Every four hundred years just isn’t enough for me.

J: Thank you, Dad. Me, too.








My next book is finally out.
It has it’s first comment on Amazon from Jenny Cowgill:

5.0 out of 5 stars

All educators need to read this book. Everyone needs to read this book.

This should be required reading for anyone in the teaching profession, but really it is a book for everyone. While the focus is on great teachers who are able to solve condlict creatively with love at the core of their teaching, these lessons could apply to anyone of any age. An enjoyable read, in these pages teachers and parents and co workers and friends etc. will witness how focusing on the core needs of students can transform the learning experience. Kids, like all of us want to matter, to be of use in the world, to be respected and valued. When this is the goal and not just how well they score on the three R’s we can create a community of learners who can thrive in school and then later in the world to create a better, more just society where everyone is valued and we can all thrive in our own wonderful uniqueness. Approaching conflict creatively, with compassion but also high expectations is evident in all of these lessons that span decades. Approaching mistakes as positive building blocks instead of negatives, seeing the whole child and not just the grade, changing the language we use, being creative and open to change are some of the many vital tools that are adressed. As someone who has taken failing schools and flipped them to successes, Ackerly lays out an approach to education that is sorely needed and so necessary. But it doesn’t end at graduation. These are tools necessary for all relationships. They can help us all become the leaders that we are as they focus on the genius in all of us.

Amazon: Link: https://amzn.to/3kyp6U9

Xlibris: https://www.xlibris.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/811380-life-lessons-from-working-with-great-teachers

Barnes and Noble: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Life-Lessons-from-Working-with-Great-Teachers-Paperback-9781664121645/722272447

Happy Reading, everyone.


Our New Normal

by Rick on November 24, 2020

(Sunday 11-22-2020 after a week in the hospital)

I awoke in my bed at home half-an-hour ago and am in the kitchen, sipping coffee, eating an English muffin (which I toasted, buttered and jammed myself), writing, again, at last.

Except for the slight pain below the six inch incision meandering gracefully around my belly button and the parade of pill bottles on the table marching past my coffee mug, the casual observer might say I am back to normal. But if this is normal, it’s a new normal. Read More…


Four years ago we discovered (if we didn’t already know) that there are two kinds of baby-boomers: those who believe that a great society needs collaboration, intellectual freedom, open mindedness and those who believe too much free thinking opens a “Pandora’s box” and lets evil into the world.

Today, core questions still rattle in the mind and rage in the streets. Read More…


Don’t Get Mad; Get Creative II

by Rick on October 2, 2020

Orange sky at noon, my house was dark all day. Our world is over-heating! And that’s not all:
A million deaths from a flu virus worldwide,
Unemployment skyrocketing,
Storms of falsehoods,
Children in cages,
Murderous policemen,
Scourge of vigilantes,
Ku Klux Klan,
Civil discourse gone,
National leaders modeling the worst of human behavior,
Gangs of cyclones,
Frogs born with missing limbs,
A plague of murder hornets,
Epidemics of ignorance, anxiety, insomnia, depression, suicide,
…need I go on?

This seems to be the context of our lives, especially if we watch the news. It’s enough to make one wonder if moving to Canada is not such a bad idea.

But the context of human life has always been—what’s the right word—challenging? Yes, challenging. Read More…