“Computers can be useful machines, especially when they help people communicate in caring ways with each other…” from Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood? Letters to Mr. Rogers, 1996, p. 37.
On May 28, the TEC Center and I will host the second webinar of our “Conversation with Authors” series that focuses on big ideas and best practices from our book Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning (Routledge & NAEYC, 2014). This conversation with Hedda Sharapan will feature themes from her chapter “Technology as a Tool for Social-Emotional Development: What We Can Learn from Fred Rogers’ Approach.”
Hedda recently celebrated 48 years with Fred Rogers, Family Communications and now the Fred Rogers Company, where she is the Director of Early Childhood Initiatives. She’s been named a Senior Fellow at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. Her conference presentations and professional development sessions are standing room only. Her professional development newsletter with resources, quotations and stories from Fred Rogers has over 15,000 subscribers. Along with these accomplishments, Hedda has received many awards including:
- Being named one of two “Heroes on the Horizon” at the NAEYC annual conference in 2010
- A Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Association for Family Child Care in 2011
- An Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA in 2013
In my own work as a Senior Fellow of the Fred Rogers Center, I‘ve come to appreciate the mindful ways Fred Rogers used his knowledge of child development with the technology of his day, broadcast television, to connect with individual children and to support healthy social-emotional development.
In her chapter, Hedda wrote,
“While I’m struggling along with everyone else to find ways that early childhood professionals can use technology appropriately, I try to keep in mind something else I learned from Fred: “No matter how helpful computers are as tools (and of course they can be very helpful tools), they don’t begin to compare in significance to the teacher-child relationship, which is human and mutual. A computer can help you learn to spell “HUG,” but it can never know the risk of the joy of actually giving or receiving one.” I keep that in mind so I myself don’t get so fascinated by what the technology can do that I forget what it can’t do.”
During our conversation, Hedda and I will discuss:
- Stories of her work with Fred on the Neighborhood and the ways in which his approach can inform our selection, use, integration and evaluation of technology and digital media with young children in classrooms and at home
- Strategies to balance our excitement about digital age tools with cautions about what is best for each child
You can get ready by reading her author profile page and reviewing her website and professional development resources.
- Author Profiles: TEC Center website
- The Fred Rogers Company
- Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
- Professional Development Newsletter Subscription
- Professional Development Resource Library
- High Tech – High Touch, Hedda Sharapan, The Fred Rogers Company, Professional Resources
- What I Learned from Fred Rogers,Hedda Sharapan, Fred Rogers Center Blog, March 21, 2013