Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a staple of the education of American children for nearly fifty years.
Premiering on February 19th, 1968, the program originally aired on what would later become known as public television. Unlike other children’s programming, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood spoke directly to its young audience. Neither overly dry/educational or over the top cartoon-y, the program was and still is the model of children’s educational television.
Like many members of my generation, I remember watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a young child. Fred Rogers did not feel like a much older adult, he felt like a friend who encouraged those watching to think, to feel, to be curious about the world around them and to ask questions. I feel like multiple generations of Americans have a level of emotional intelligence that they would have not developed, had Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood not been a part of their early years.
Fred Rogers passed away during my final year of college. As an adult, I’ve come to believe that one of the markers of adulthood is loosing someone or something that was integral to your childhood. His passing was a subtle reminder that the shift from childhood to adulthood was coming rapidly.
While Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is no longer on the air, the program still lingers in the hearts and minds of the multiple generations of American children whose childhood was shaped by the program.