I grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I absolutely loved him as a kid. He always made me feel like a person and not a child. I loved the trolley and his land of make believe. I enjoyed the puppets and characters on his show. My favorites were King Friday and Lady Elaine. As I became a teenager, I began to think he was corny and eventually stopped watching. However, that is probably when I should have embraced his lessons most of all. We all go through that stage where the things we did when we were smaller seem silly. Mister Rogers was anything but silly.
It wasn't until I got older that I understood that he did the voices for almost all of his characters. I began to see the contributions he made to society outside of his show. He had great advice for everyone and was someone who genuinely wanted to make this world a better place. I believe he is truly an American Hero.
I recently read a post on Facebook about Mr. Rogers. It had a link that led to a site that had several quotes by him. As I read several of the quotes, I realized that his philosophy of how children learn and mine weren't too far apart. For example, here is one that stood out. "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." Wow, that is right on. Education, in the past has totally gone in the wrong direction. We have fewer recesses and less opportunities for kids to explore the things that they are interested in. Adults "play" on their free time. That is when they find time to learn about things they are most interested in. Why wouldn't children learn in the same way?
Here is one more quote I read that is right up my alley. "When we treat children's play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that's to be found in the creative spirit. It's the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.” This statement proves that this type of learning encourages creativity. Creativity is so needed in our schools today. We are no longer living in the 1950's where we are training our students to work in a factory on an assembly line. We need to prepare them for the 21st Century. Our classrooms need to be a playground where teachers and students can unleash their creative spirits.
Thank you Mister Rogers for this reminder. Lets take these words and put them into action.