I’ve always felt good about calling this newsletter “What we can continue to learn from Fred Rogers.” And it’s been especially heartwarming to hear from so many of our readers that you, too, appreciate learning from the way Fred approached children, families, the world, and life in general.
I was thinking of that because March 20th would have been Fred’s 89th birthday. And it was obvious to all of us who worked with Fred that learning was an essential part of his work and his life.
Fred spent a great deal of his life learning about children and families so that he could offer meaningful television programming. But his love of learning wasn’t just ABOUT children and families. Fred loved learning FROM everyone -- and he modeled that with all of the guests on the Neighborhood program. Watch his delight in learning when he visited with the Kenyan musical group, Jabali Afrika.
Wonder about things
On the video you can see and hear how curious Fred was about the unique instruments. When the musicians saw he was wondering about the instruments, they helped him learn how to play them. Wondering can be the start for all kinds of learning. Of course, you can’t let children try everything they’re curious about, and no one can give them answers to all their questions. But just by appreciating what they wonder about, you’re setting them on a path for lifelong learning.
Look and listen carefully
I thought it was interesting that on the video Fred took the time to go from one musician to the next, asking about their instruments and trying them. He studied each piece and listened carefully to its sound. We seem to be moving so quickly through each day, and yet think about how much you learn -- and how good it feels -- when you have time to look and listen. And think about what it can mean to the children when you give them time to look and listen, to explore and experiment, to digest and integrate. Those kinds of opportunities often stimulate them to keep on investigating -- and to keep on learning.
Teach by example
Children are always watching what we do. And they want to be like the important adults in their lives. That reminds me of the Quaker saying that Fred often quoted, “Attitudes are caught, not taught.” That’s why your modeling -- your example -- is so powerful. Think about the impact you have on children when they see how interested you are in learning.