My children don't watch much television. In fact, since we've moved to Thomas Run we haven't set up the tv or even hooked up cable service. But we do go through spurts where the television comes out again–a round of sickness, the coldest days of the winter months…
When the television is on in our home and the children are watching, there is only one channel that they watch–PBS. When we lived in Wisconsin, that meant that the girls were able to watch thirty minutes of Mr Rogers each morning. Back then, Mr. Rogers was preceded by an episode of Sesame Street which included a short episode of Elmo's World sandwiched in the middle of the program.
On the days when my children would catch the last bits of Elmo's World before watching Mr. Rogers, the contrast between the two programs was stark. The busyness of Elmo's World, the chaotic music, the jumping from one snippet to the next, the throwing out of lots of information, delivered quickly and with a snappy, fast-paced approach. Some days I could barely stand to be in the same room while the show was on. It was too much to process. Sensory overload.
The show stood in strong contrast to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. From the beginning, the show was like watching a work of art slowly unfolding. There was routine, a slower pace, peaceful music, a kind voice, a gentle curiosity and encouragement. I felt my mood soften and relax.
Recently, I became aware that Public Television is making plans (already implemented in some states) to remove Mr. Rogers Neighborhood from its weekly lineup for children. In some places, it will get shoved to a weekend time slot, for other stations it will be gone all together.
Mr. Rogers is timeless. It's not only about nostalgia– watching a show with my children that I watched as a child. Fred Roger's carefully crafted program has a message that is just as important to today's children, if not more, as it was to children of my generation.
In an era where more and more children are parented by their televisions, the need for a program like Mr. Rogers to be on the air holds even more weight and importance. In my opinion, PBS is doing a disservice to children today by removing this show from their schedule.
For me, saving Mr. Roger's Neighborhood really isn't about keeping a show on the air that I want my children to watch. Because chances are, my children won't be watching television very often. My strong feelings about this are stirred up by a concern and care for children today–for the children I don't know and will probably never meet–but children who need the reassuring, encouraging presence of Fred Rogers in their life.
If this means something to you as well, I hope you'll take a moment to check out the site that started this all for me. Brian Linder, a concerned parent from South Carolina, has started a
grassroots campaign to save Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.
Has two quotes on his site that really captured some of what I believe about this program.
The first quote is by Fred Rogers himself in an interview with the Archive of American Television. His is talking about the feelings of nostalgia that his show evokes for the parents that watch along with their children:
watching, that could be one of the greatest gifts we’re giving the next
generation because if they’re in touch with who they were as children,
they’ll be able to be far more empathic with their own children. That’s
something really important.”
The other quote is by Chicago artist and father Chris Ware in a letter he wrote to his station, WTTW:
infatuation with the extraordinary person who was Mister Rogers, a man
who left a legacy of one of the most carefully collected, collated and
constructed works of art created specifically to cradle a child’s
fragile, budding sensitivity and ethical consciousness.
Mister Rogers is not flashy, frisky, funky or fantastic. Mister
Rogers is slow moving, awkward, simple, low-rent, and even a little bit
peculiar and disquieting at times. So is life. In fact, it’s about the
last place on television where real life may actually still be found.
I hope you'll take a few moments to explore his site and find out exactly what you can do to make your voice heard on this important issue.
I received an email last week from Brian about creating a blog button for his campaign. Understandably, he has a full-plate right now, not to mention twin toddlers. I've taken the liberty of creating a blog button by resizing one of the downloadable desktop images on his site. Once I receive the okay from him, I'll be happy to email the code to anyone who is interested in placing a button on their blog as well. Just let me know.
**Brian got back to me last night: Code for a button like the one in my sidebar is below:**
<a href="http://savemisterrogers.com/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2137/2776973960_349ac965df_m.jpg" /></a>