He Made Me Feel Special. He Made Me Feel Loved. Why We’re Still Learning Lessons from Mister Rogers

Ryan And Gregg Together


Mister Rogers made me really feel protected. 

He made me really feel accepted. 

He made me really feel particular.

He made me really feel cherished. 

These had been responses Pittsburghers Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski would get repeatedly after they requested individuals, irrespective of their era or stroll of life, what phrase or phrase first got here to thoughts after they considered Fred Rogers and his groundbreaking instructional tv present, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”  

“Fred did this for tens of millions of children, for many years at a time,” says Rydzewski. “The query we saved asking is, how?”

The reply may be present in Rydzewski and Behr’s vigorously researched e-book, “When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids.” 

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Behr, government director of the nonprofit Grable Foundation and co-chair of Remake Studying, and Rydzewski, an award-winning science and schooling reporter who has carried out freelance work for Pittsburgh Journal, spent three years writing the e-book, which breaks down Rogers’ instruments for studying — kindness, creativity and the significance of being your self — and turns it right into a blueprint that oldsters and educators can use for educating their very own children and college students the teachings Rogers held pricey. 

“We didn’t use this phrase 50 years in the past, however Fred was a studying scientist — and he was a studying scientist who was many years forward of his time,” Behr says. “Once we as adults look again at that emotional connection we had with Fred, we see some blueprints for studying; blueprints that academics can use in school rooms, blueprints that oldsters like us can use in our personal properties.” 



Filmed at WQED’s studio in Pittsburgh, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” ran from 1968 to 2001. Every of the half-hour episodes start with Rogers, who died of abdomen most cancers at age 74 in 2003, singing “Received’t You be My Neighbor?” whereas zipping up his cardigan sweater and speaking calmly to the digital camera about a wide range of topics earlier than the Neighborhood Trolley arrives to move his younger viewers to the fictional Neighborhood of Make-Imagine. 

Previous to the closing credit, Rogers, taking off his cardigan and donning his jacket as he prepares to go away a set home not in contrast to one which could possibly be present in his real-life neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, reminds viewers, “There’s just one individual in the entire world that’s such as you, and that’s you.”  

“It’s you I like,” he sings gently in one other track. 

Whereas Rogers’ on-camera actions and classes, which have grow to be ubiquitous to those that grew up watching the present, seem easy, Behr and Rydzewski emphasize how every episode deliberately utilized Rogers’ data of kid improvement concept, follow and the science of the day. 

Mister Rogers

A Presbyterian minister, Rogers graduated in 1962 from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. It was there he determined he would use the then new-fangled know-how of tv to minister to children.

“It was his academics on the seminary who mentioned, ‘Properly, then, you higher study one thing about youngster improvement concept and follow,” Behr says. 

Rogers went on to check at Arsenal Household & Kids’s Middle in Bloomfield. Based by famend youngster improvement specialists Dr. Benjamin Spock, Margaret McFarland and Erik Erikson, the ability acted as a coaching floor for Rogers. McFarland, an affiliate professor within the Division of Psychiatry on the College of Pittsburgh, later turned Rogers’ mentor and a marketing consultant on the present. 

“[Rogers] took that science that he was studying from them and he utilized it to his wardrobe and to the bodily set and his lyrics and every part about this system itself,” Behr says. “And he made it so seamless that as viewers we didn’t discover it. However there was an extremely attentive intention behind his work.” 

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In “When You Surprise, You’re Studying,” which references each regional instructional specialists from Pitt, Carnegie Mellon College, the Kids’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Rogers’ personal colleagues, Behr says he and Rydzewski focus on how and why Rogers employed his enduring strategies — and the methods through which it may be instructive to educators at this time. 

“We talked about it because the Fred Methodology,” he says. “How can we share the Fred Methodology with mother and father, with academics, with different caring adults, not solely right here in Pittsburgh, however all over the world? As a result of it’s what the world wants proper now.” 

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In her ahead, in addition to her conversations with Behr and Rydzewski for the six-chapter e-book, Rogers’ widow, Joanne Rogers, reminds readers that her husband was no saint; he felt anger and frustration similar to anybody else. The chair emerita of Fred Rogers Productions, Joanne died in January 2021 at age 92. 

The ahead for the e-book, through which she praised the authors for breaking down “the instruments for studying that Fred taught and the explanations they’re nonetheless important” was one of many final issues she wrote, in response to Rydzewski.   

“She wrote that nobody labored tougher at being Fred Rogers than Fred Rogers himself,” Rydzewski says. “Each final one in all us can do a model of what Fred did. In a variety of methods, our e-book is about how individuals are doing simply that.”

That idea, he says, is each a reduction and an enormous duty. 

“If Fred might do it, then so can everybody else, but it surely takes a ton of labor,” he says. “Gregg and I are nonetheless making an attempt to reside as much as that stage in our personal private lives, however it’s potential.” 

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Since “When You Surprise, You’re Studying” was revealed in April 2021, Behr and Rydzewski have just about, and in individual, traveled across the nation to speak about it. Rydzewski says some of the gratifying reactions to the e-book is when individuals strategy him to inform him Rogers modified, and in some instances saved, their life.  

“Fred has been gone nearly 20 years and his impression has not diminished in any respect,” he says. “It’s astounding what one man and small staff had been capable of do with intention and science and a deep sense of caring about their neighbors.” 

A paperback model of “When You Surprise, You’re Studying,” accessible in April, will embody dialogue guides in addition to up to date info for educators. Behr says he and Rydzewski are seeing increasingly more regional colleges, amongst them Seneca Valley, New Wilmington and Duquesne Metropolis faculty districts, use the e-book for skilled improvement and strategic planning. 

And whereas the authors say they filed away sufficient info to fill a second e-book, their rapid hope is to proceed to amplify Rogers’ work and the way it may be utilized to trendy studying, one thing Rydzewski calls an honor. 

“If I might do this for the remainder of my life, I’d,” he says.   

“When You Surprise, You’re Studying,” may be discovered on-line and in bookstores. For extra info, visit here. 

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