Never Too Old: Advice Educators Should Take from Mr. Rogers

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Most of us watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood at one time or another- along with our children or as children ourselves. So, we felt his impact and influence, either directly or indirectly.

After watching the recent documentary about Fred Rogers, I was reminded of what genuinely matters and how the lessons he so sensitively taught children are just as meaningful for those who teach them.

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1. Always be a learner. Lifelong learning is our calling. We can never afford to get stale or static, because our work revolves around children who are neither. They are ever-changing, developing, growing… and learning.

Mr. Rogers said, ” The more you learn, the better feeling you have about yourself.”

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2. Be truthful- to others and to ourselves. Sometimes we just have to admit to things or feelings we’d prefer not to, but it makes no sense to bury them. Being honest about what we feel will ultimately lead to inner peace and stability, despite the discomfort of the moment.

3. Accept ourselves for who we are and make the decision to be happy with that. “Fitting in” is over-rated and frustrating. Those who we call our good friends will respect and love us without any conditions- exactly as we are.

“It’s you I like. It’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair. But it’s you I like, the way you are right now, the way down deep inside you. Not the things that hide you. It’s you I like.”

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4. Be compassionate towards others. It’s easy to be critical or ignore someone else’s distress. After all, we’re busy. We have our own problems. It’s best not to get involved. But is it? Distancing ourselves from human compassion is isolating and breeds bitterness. No one wants to be that teacher. Mr. Rogers always believed being kind was the strategy of choice.

“There are three ways to ultimate sucess. The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

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5. Make time to take care of other people. Be helpful. Be present. The best way to start is by taking care of ourselves. We can’t give of ourselves if there’s nothing to give. Eat well, get enough sleep, and monitor your health- both physical and mental.

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6. Don’t get hung up on tragic events. Try to put things into perspective, rather than only focusing on the dark side. Pay attention to the good that’s being done when something bad happens. Think of ways we can contribute towards making things better.

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers- so many caring people in this world.”

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7. Let ourselves cry sometimes- or express anger. It’s OK- really. Even in front of someone else. This doesn’t mean we’re weak. It means we’re human. Keeping it all inside is destructive to our stability, mood, ability to function… our ability to teach.

8. Follow our own dreams and passions. We shouldn’t ever feel that we must live someone else’s. Others may hold us to certain expectations, but this doesn’t have to be all-consuming. We can deliberately take time to pursue our interests, to discover new things and ideas. We will be much more dynamic, inspired, and happy with our lives and who we are.

“The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing, and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.”

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9. Never be satisfied when we reach a goal. Be of the mindset that something better is right around the corner. Always look ahead to the next milestone, the next challenge.

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”

Who knew that as an adult, I can still be inspired by Mr. Rogers. He had so much pertinent advice that spans all the years of our lives. I hope you find some inspiration, too.

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