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When You Wonder, You’re Learning

Last week marked the 53rd anniversary of the first nationwide broadcast of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood – over a half-century of Fred Rogers’ gentle, yet powerful impact on the world. This week I received an email from a colleague in Pittsburg (hometown of Fred Rogers) about the upcoming April 2021 release of a book that weaves together the timeless wisdom of Fred Rogers and the current science and understanding of 21st-century skills and dispositions toward learning. Anyone who has attended training with me over the years knows that I often incorporate the value of supporting  21st-century skills, such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, cultural competency, and positive character traits into my teaching, as well as Lilian Katz’s concept of positive learning dispositions such as curiosity, resourcefulness, persistence, etc. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Katz wrote about What Young Children Should Be Learningdiscussing four major learning goals in the early childhood years and advocating for greater emphasis on supporting children’s positive dispositions toward learning rather than isolated skills, and her message still holds true today. She has also eloquently written about the important Distinctions Between Academic vs. Intellectual Goals for Young Children. A quote of hers that has always stuck with me is: “It is clearly not useful for a child to learn skills if, in the process of acquiring them, the disposition to use them is lost.”

The new book, When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids, is described as, “Playful and practical, introducing a new generation of families to the lessons of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. By exploring the science behind the iconic television program, the book reveals what Fred Rogers called the “tools for learning”: skills and mindsets that scientists now consider essential. These tools – curiosity, creativity, collaboration, and more – have been shown to boost everything from academic learning to children’s well-being, and they benefit kids of every background and age. They cost next to nothing to develop, and they hinge on the very things that make life worthwhile: self-acceptance; close, loving relationships; and a deep regard for one’s neighbor.” Sounds like Fred Rogers meets Lilian Katz in the 21st century. Personally, I’m sold. You can pre-order a copy at Amazon.com, Target.com, or your favorite bookstore online. Pre-ordering provides you with early access material including a note from the authors, the introduction, and chapter one. Needless to say, my copy is already on order. My Pittsburgh colleague’s final addition to the book’s description was, “And if nothing else, the authors hope that it will bring a bit more kindness and humanity into the world.”

Sounds like something the world could use and reminds me of a quote:

“There are three ways to ultimate success: 
The first way is to be kind. 
The second way is to be kind. 
The third way is to be kind.”
– Fred Rogers

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