“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” –Fred Rogers, The World According to Mr. Rogers
Mr. Rogers devoted his life to children and trying to see that educational programming was available to them. On his show, Mr. Rogers encouraged children to be curious and grow ideas in “the garden of your mind.” He encouraged his viewers to go outside their comfort zone and learn about new things. Imagination and “The Land of Make-Believe” are key parts of what it means to be a kid, and Fred Rogers encouraged his viewers to use their imaginations and be creative. One of the central ideas that Mr. Rogers presented was caring for one another. He encouraged viewers to explore their neighborhood and know their neighbors. Community, though he didn’t call it that, was an incredibly important idea for Mr. Rogers. He taught us to accept people for who they are and meet them where they are. Kindness and helping someone who needs it comes naturally when we engage each other as a neighbor. He was teaching kids the importance of recognizing what binds us together while also valuing what makes us different. The importance, especially for a child, of being accepted as the individual each one of us is was not lost on Mr. Rogers.
As it turns out, the importance of early childhood education is being talked about more and more. Fred Rogers knew just how important it was even as far back as 1969 when he defended funding PBS in front of the US Senate. His passion for educating children is what lead him to record 895 episodes of his show, which aired from 1968-2001. He, much like my own mother, was concerned about what children were exposed to on TV. Mr. Rogers thought that the drama and violence on TV was not what kids needed. What they needed was seeing the drama about people working out their anger and how to deal with their feelings.
Class of 2012
College of Arts and Sciences
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