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THE GENIUS IN CHILDREN - Encouraging Character, Curiosity, and Creativity in Children by Rick Ackerly - Page 2

What about Mermaids?

by Rick on February 13, 2020

Calling forty-eight 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders together in the gym, I divided them into multi-age groups, defined the rules of “Giants, Wizards and Dwarfs” (a game like rock-paper-scissors), and said, “Now decide which you are: Giants, Wizards or Dwarfs.”

While the groups huddled in murmuring agitation to make their decision, a small voice at my side asked, Read More…


The No Smoking Lecture

by Rick on January 23, 2020

A number of years ago, as I was driving north with my nineteen-year old daughter, she said: “Dad, you never gave me the No Smoking Lecture.”
“I know,” I replied. “I always trusted you.”
“But I needed it.”
“What do you mean, you needed it?”
“You do know I smoked, right?”

Read More…


Driving Allison Home from an evening basketball game one Wednesday evening she said:

“I listen to my father,” said Allison, “because I have found that he tells me things that turn out to be true. Like ‘Never go out without money,’ he says.”

Allison needed someone to talk to. Last Saturday night there had been a party where some of her classmates got drunk and trashed the house of a classmate. Read More…


Do not trip over what is behind you.

One day, five second-grade girls came to my office.
“We’re having a fight.”
“Could we use your office to talk it out?”
“Sure,” I said.
They came in and sat at the round table.
“We would like for you to stay.”
“Yeah, but we don’t want you to say anything.”
“Okay,” I said and went back to my desk.

They started talking.
Early in the conversation, they acknowledged
that the problem stemmed from two of their parents,
who had not been getting along.
Miranda said: “Don’t bring the past into the present.”
“Yeah. Like, just cause our parents aren’t friends
doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.”
“Yeah. Like, let’s not bring the past into the present.”

A little more talking.
Then they got up from the table, thanked me,
and clustering at the doorway,
they put their hands together and
made a pact to be friends no matter what.
Saying in unison:
“Don’t bring the past into the present.”

Happy New Year, and Happy new decade. Today is 0101/2020
Press the Reset Button.
Be New

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It’s Not True,
what we’ve been told,
that heaven has to wait until we die.

Thinking I would have to make my case someday,
I spent my whole life in the hell of bettering,
bettering myself and others, the world,
but bettering just fed despair and
nothing happened.

At last I just stood up and said, “May I come in? I’ve done
some things I shouldn’t do, and not done things I should,
and I’m a stupid, fucking idiot.” And then I heard
a voice which said: I know. It’s not your fault.
It’s how you’re made. Come in.
You like your coffee black?
…or room for cream?
(A poem for this Advent season.)