With the discharge of “A Stunning Day within the Neighborhood,” inquiring minds wish to know: What did I consider Mr. Rogers?
I by no means met the person, however within the early days of my fatherhood, I watched Rogers’ present sufficient to determine that, as was additionally the case with Captain Kangaroo and different youngsters’s tv personalities, he was working a method that clearly appealed to younger ones.
I’ve by no means been a fan of tv exhibits pitched to youngsters, however I made a slight exception when it got here to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” My concession had extra to do with Rogers’ manufacturing than his content material. As an alternative of the same old three cameras (a method often credited to Desi Arnaz of Desilu Productions), Rogers used just one. One digital camera following him round meant that in contrast to Sesame Avenue and cartoon applications, MRN was “flicker-free.”
Again within the ‘80s I identified that the incessant flicker of tv applications – as soon as each two to a few seconds, on common – meant that youngsters’s brains have been being bombarded with a type of visible stimulation that was not replicated in the actual world. This, I surmised, was shortening their consideration spans and contributing considerably to the dramatic rise in conduct issues involving impulsivity and incapacity to pay attention. It gave me some perverse pleasure to be ridiculed by ADHD “specialists” like fellow psychologist Russell Barkley, who likened my views to Scientology (don’t ask, as a result of I’ve but to determine that out). It offers me much more pleasure to report that in response to one of the best analysis, I used to be spot on.
Certainly, watching MRN was calming. If calming youngsters and reassuring them that the world was a protected and attention-grabbing place was all Rogers actually achieved, bully for him. I additionally accredited of his refusal to show something tutorial. If all preschools have been constructed on Rogers’ mannequin, the world could be a greater place and kids would do a lot better as soon as they obtained to “actual” faculty.
Though his audience was preschool youngsters, dad and mom have been actually influenced by Rogers’ mild but playful strategy to youngsters. He turned, to many dad and mom, a childrearing ultimate – extra particularly, the best dad.
And proper there may be the place Rogers and I half methods. Though it could effectively have been unintentional on his half, Rogers boosted the recognition of the post-1960s psychological parenting paradigm and helped give rise to the notion that one of the best dad is firstly a buddy to his youngsters, particularly boys.
Rogers was the epitome of the grownup who strives, firstly, to be a pal to youngsters. In Rogers’ neighborhood, no distinction existed between grownup and youngster; youngsters have been, in impact, Rogers’ friends. As an alternative of presenting himself as an authority determine, Rogers was extra like a loving older brother, there to information his younger sibs into the world. I’m actually not suggesting that Rogers is chargeable for the present ubiquity of adults who wish to be favored by youngsters, however he actually contributed to the acceptance of an concept that has significantly broken self-discipline in each the house and classroom.
Rogers additionally furthered the notion that youngsters will cooperate if adults will solely give them, patiently, explanations for his or her selections and directions. Not so. Given such explanations, regardless of how patiently, youngsters argue, and kids who argue are inclined to throw tantrums after they don’t get their method and when youngsters throw tantrums, nobody is pleased and mothers and dads get into fights.
I don’t assume Fred Rogers ever advised the kids in his viewers that they need to obey their dad and mom and settle for “no” for a solution. That, in my estimation, would have been a lot better by far than one digital camera.