As Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood celebrates its 50th birthday this year, a provocative documentary about the iconic television show and its host hits theaters nationwide this weekend. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” pushes the envelope for feature-film fare for the values it espouses. The film’s Oscar-winning director, Morgan Neville, distilled Mr. Rogers’ teachings into one simple concept he dubbed “radical kindness.” Collectively, as a nation of adults and educators, we should leverage the film’s message as a wake-up call to get back to basics about what kids crave in today’s world.
At the top of that list is a safe and nurturing learning environment. Sadly, according to new figures from the Pew Research Center, more than half of American teens say they worry about a shooting happening at their school. The findings were released after February’s massacre in Florida, where a 19-year-old gunned down 17 people at his former high school, and before a Texas teen’s shooting rampage in May killed 10 at his school.
The Pew study results are alarming. As an education advocate, I’ve traveled the globe studying what works and what doesn’t in all types of classrooms. Though we disagree about a wide range of issues, virtually all experts in our field agree that if students feel anxious or worried in any way at school, learning is impeded.
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