Don’t let the word “genius” in the title mislead you. Ackerly’s book is not about children with “extraordinary intellectual power” – the definition you might find in the dictionary. He does not suggest that all children are geniuses. Instead, Rick returns to a lesser used definition of genius: “the tutelary spirit of a person, place or institution.”
This is a beautiful book and one that every human being should read. How different the world would be if all of our teachers and parents had believed (or just assumed, as Rick Ackerly wisely says we need to do) in that genius in each of us; allowed us to stay in the struggle to become our full selves; acted outside of fear, and just been with us through it all, no matter how “ugly” or “bad” we may have looked or seemed to the world.
I just wrote a review of “The Genius in Every Child” on my blog devoted to how families, schools, and communities help kids thrive. One of the commenters said, “I love the word genius because it comes from an old word that meant ‘guardian or guiding spirit’ indicating that we all come into the world with our own genius to guide us.”