September 30, 2019

Dear Campus School Families,

This summer, while walking across the Smith campus, I ran into some of our June program students. I was dressed casually – jeans, sneakers, sunglasses – and one of our 1st graders looked me up and down and said, “Mr. Marblo, you look hipper than usual.” My first thought was, isn’t that a nice thing to say? But then I realized there was an implied sub-message – that I’m typically not so hip. I laughed about this observation for days afterward.

One of the joys of working with and parenting children is that they have a very porous filter. They typically say what is on their mind, and we can never be sure what direction they will take their questions and observations. It’s like riding a roller coaster in the dark – all we can do is buckle up and enjoy the ride.

But the ride can be thrilling. I’m sure you can think of many times your child made an observation or asked a question that took your breath away in its profundity and insight. Children see things that adults don’t and know things that we have forgotten. It is hard to imagine there was once a time when children were expected to be seen and not heard. What a terrible framing of childhood and denial of children’s dignity that was.

One of the important things about Fred Rogers was that he respected the dignity of children and took their thoughts, feelings, and insights seriously. This is one reason why he and his work still resonate today. Staying attuned to and respecting children is one of our most important obligations, and doing so allows us to also benefit from their insights and observations – even when they are directed to a head of school whose hipness quotient is so clearly diminished.