Teachings of Fred Rogers – Winter 2023

Photo Collage by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0


This website is primarily for the Winter CMU Osher class #4501. The class will meet for six Friday sessions from 10:45 – 12:15 starting 1/13/23 and ending 2/17/23. This site will have the most updated information about the class assignments and resources. The class will use as a framework and reference the book When You Wonder, You’re Learning (see below).

Week 1: Mister Rogers as a Learning Scientist

In this class, Gregg Behr will reveal a never-before-seen side of Fred Rogers: the ingenious learning scientist who was decades ahead of his time. The author of When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids will explore how Rogers engineered Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to help kids develop the “tools for learning” essential to lifelong success: curiosity, creativity, communication, and more. These tools have been shown to boost academic learning and overall well-being, and they benefit people of every background and age.

Theme: Curiosity (Chapter 1 from When You Wonder, You’re Learning)

Additional Resources:

Week 2: Communicating Fred’s Ideas

Learn behind the scenes stories about Fred Rogers from Bill Isler, one of Fred’s personal friends as well as colleagues. Bill Isler served as the President of Family Communications, the company that produced Fred’s show, and later became the first Executive Director for the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent’s College. Bill will share behind-the-scenes stories about the films and articles that helped to tell the story of Fred’s teachings and his role as a communicator par excellent.

Theme: Communicating (Chapter 4 from When You Wonder, You’re Learning)

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Week 3: Creating a World of Collaborators

Cara Ciminillo, the Executive Director for Trying Together, will outline how Fred’s teachings have become part of the world of early childhood learning. Fred Rogers often said, “It’s through relationships that we learn best and grow best.” When you care about someone and know that person cares about you, you want to learn from them and strive to be your best. Mister Rogers didn’t “teach” us to be caring neighbors, but he gave us many ways to understand how important we are to each other. 

Theme: Working Together (Chapter 4)

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Week 4: The Museum Connection: Creating a Place for Creativity

Explore the Children’s Museum with Jane Werner, the Executive Director, where you’ll find the Kindness Gallery with a record player featuring Fred Roger’s music, photos in the Cafe by Lynn Johnson that capture Fred Rogers and his Neighborhood, and the Nursery where there are original Neighborhood puppets. Learn more about the recent programming that draws from the teaching of Fred Rogers and the lessons from the Daniel Tiger series on PBS. In addition, Jane will share how Fred’s teachings helped shape the work of the Children’s Museum as a place for making and creating.

Theme: Creativity (Chapter 2)

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Week 5: Connecting Learning from Fred Rogers to Current Contexts of Practice

Educators’ Neighborhood, a project of the Fred Rogers Institute, supports educators to learn together inspired by the work of Fred Rogers and the archive of practice found in episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In this session, Melissa Butler will share ideas from Educators’ Neighborhood and invite participants to engage in conversation around an episode clip linked to their own lives and practice.
Learn more about Educators’ Neighborhood. Read blog posts about educator practice linked to episodes.
Melissa A. Butler is an author and educator specializing in the art of noticing and holistic learning design. She works as a consultant with the Fred Rogers Institute as the Project Lead of Educators’ Neighborhood

Theme: Learning and Growing (Chapter 5)

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Week 6: Connecting Fred’s Teachings to the World

Larry Berger has been called a 21st century Mister Rogers. He created SLB Productions as a public radio show for the family over 40 years ago when he was a teenager. Recently, Larry was honored by AARP. According to an article in the Post Gazette: Now old enough to, well, belong to AARP, Mr. Berger was just honored by that group as one of nine fellows of the 2022 Purpose Prize.” According to Larry the class will focus on “Creating sacred spaces for exploring ideas, courageous conversations, or pleasant pastimes.” Larry will share how the non-profit, SLB Productions, has incorporated many Neighborhood design principles into its live radio and youth voice programs.

Larry will provide a closing activity so everyone in the class has a way to remember the teachings of Fred Rogers.

Theme: Connection (Chapter 6)

Additional Resources: