One of my favorite Fred Rogers repetitions — and boy, let me tell ya, do I have a lot — is, “It's such a good feeling.”
What Rogers does with lines like that is masterful, even for secondary educators like me, for at least two reasons I'd like you to think about today.
First, he makes the implicit explicit. This might be the most underrated master-move in secondary education.
Rather than assuming everyone feels the same as him and is able to identify feelings he's able to identify, Rogers explicitly says, again and again: “Do you feel that feeling? That's a good one. Contemplating that you're alive — that's a good feeling. Being aware of your growth — that's a good feeling. Taking ownership of your day and deciding that you'll make it snappy — oh wow, is that ever good.”
The bulk of our classrooms suffer for lack of explicit instruction. We are tragically presumptuous about what our students understand. We bring far too much presumption to a work that needs the lack of it.
There's way too much assuming that happens in secondary schools. The best of us remember one thing: lots of our students don't understand the point of school.
And second, Rogers is So. Doggone. Confident. He knows that what he's offering his students — the kids viewing his show — is a timeless good. He knows this despite his simultaneous awareness that the medium through which he's working — television — can be quite harmful to kids.
And that's exactly how you and I work, colleague.
We work in a medium — school — that's one of the few remaining commonplaces in the communities wherein we live. Television's commonplaceness is gone now, replaced by an algorithmically individualized, numberless, creators-driven Internet. But school? That's still a commonplace. And, like Rogers' TV, it's one that's wrought with problems and prone to damage.
And yet — and yet! — it is such a remarkable, fertile soil within which to promote the long-term flourishing of young people, so long as — so long as! — we remember this: Wow! It is such a good feeling to get to work in a school with young people.
The school won't reliably remind us of this.
The culture won't.
And the students won't, either.
No — just like Rogers was responsible for reminding himself of the good feelings possible in television, so too are we responsible, in a world gone mad, for reminding ourselves of the Why behind what we do.
Keep at it, colleague.