Author: Junlei Li

Fred Rogers’ Unfinished Work

In an archival folder dated late 2002, I found this little note. Fred was preparing his commencement address to Dartmouth College (where he had attended as an undergraduate). He jotted down the main idea of his talk on a small piece of stationary from Rollins College (to which he transferred from Dartmouth). This Dartmouth address became one of Fred’s last public speeches....

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Remake Learning Part 3

The Simple Interactions That Make Learning Possible (Part Three)

Part Three: Technology that enriches, rather than replaces, human interactions Sometimes an innovative learning idea will go beyond a one-time exposure or a one-afternoon experience. It can become embedded within the extended and intimate relationships children have already formed with the adults near them. The “Baby Promise” project, funded through a Spark award from The Sprout Fund, was delivered through a...

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Part 2 Blog

The Simple Interactions That Make Learning Possible (Part Two)

What makes us try new things, especially when new things do not come easily? What makes us stick with challenges when we can see that others appear better and faster? Persistence, or grit, or stick-to-it-ness develops in us through enriching interactions with those near us, especially when we are trying, failing, and struggling. Fred Rogers often talked about the importance of...

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Junlei's Cross Post

The Simple Interactions That Make Learning Possible

For many years, on the desk of Pittsburgh’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers, visitors would spot a framed piece of calligraphy of the famous theme from the children’s novel “The Little Prince” that read, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Fred Rogers, with his gentle persistence and deliberate approach, tried to find and articulate for children and families what...

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What Nourishes the Imagination?

“Imagining something may be the first step in making it happen,” Fred wrote, “but it takes the real time and real efforts of real people to learn things, make things, turn thoughts into deeds or visions into inventions.” At the start of the school year, we shared this whimsical illustration by the artist (and orthodontist!) Grant Snider on “how to grow...

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You Are (Not) Special

It is the season of commencement speeches again.  From high school auditoriums to college athletic fields, graduates are exhorted to “be all that you can be,” “let what you love be what you do,” “be somebody,” “serve somebody,” and, of course, “change the world.” Last weekend, as I watched my own students march in their caps and gowns, I couldn’t help...

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The Toothpaste Theory of Child Development

Have you ever studied the label on a tube of toothpaste? A good number of years ago, out of sheer boredom, I picked up the tube while supervising my daughters as they brushed their teeth for the proverbial and interminable “two minutes.” The label reads: “Active ingredient: sodium fluoride.” Its function: cavity prevention. And just below that was a list of...

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What Would Fred Rogers Do?

“What would Mister Rogers do?” I asked myself, over and over again, as I stared ineptly at a classroom full of unruly eighth graders barely paying attention to anything I was teaching. It was 2003, and the fact I had just received my doctorate in child psychology merely accentuated the irony. It was also the year Fred Rogers passed away. Having...

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The Willingness to Fail

I am anxious and frustrated.  My palm is sweating, my face red with indignation.  Next to me sits my bemused family pal, less than half my age, watching me stumble on the way to inevitable demise.  We are playing his game, and he is killing me. This is the basic problem with our popular belief that game-playing is the chief culprit...

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