Author Topic: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view  (Read 10174 times)

mitsguy2001

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Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« on: June 12, 2012, 09:24:47 PM »
I want to start off saying that I was a huge fan of MRN as a kid.  I really wish that more people would follow the values that Fred promoted.  The world would definitely be a better place if more people followed his example.

However, in thinking back about the series years later, I have come to realize that, unfortunately, a lot of the values that Fred taught on the show, unfortunately, do not work in the real world.  Two of Fred's values that I have always taken to heart are to take your time when doing things, and that you should be happy to be different and that we don't need to all be the same.   Unfortunately, these values have sometimes caused difficulties for me to function in a world that does not embrace these same values.

To start, I'll talk about Fred encouraging us to take our time when doing things.  That is very much how I live my life; I am very much a slow paced, Type B person.  Unfortunately, that does not always work in our fast paced, Type A world.  This caused difficulties for me as early as kindergarten.  Every single time we would have to line up, my teacher would mock me by announcing to the class "Joey is slow, so he has to go to the back of the line".  And in the rare instance that someone would be even slower than me and would end up behind me in line, I would be the one who would get in trouble.  Our society, unfortunately, places a lot of value on doing things quickly.

The bigger issue is Fred telling us to be happy to be different.  Part of that is because Fred came from extreme wealth, and was able to start his own business, and he never experienced being on the receiving end of office politics.  We discussed bullying in another thread.  As a kid, I didn't let it bother me so much that I was bullied and that I was so different from other kids.  I didn't care too much about what other students and teachers thought of me.  I was happy to be different, and didn't ever feel the need to be like everyone else.

Unfortunately, in the real world, most of the bosses are the former bullies from school, and they tend not to tolerate anyone who is different.  Both Obama and Romney have admitted that they were bullies when they were in school, and one of them will be leading our nation for the next 4 years.  Although in school, my grades would be mostly (but not entirely) dependent on how well I did the assigned work, unfortunately, in the real world, success is determined primarily by office politics and by willingness and ability to conform.  Again, this is not something that Fred really had to deal with in his life.

One thing that comes to mind is the series about Josephine the Short Neck Giraffe.  That was a nice story with a nice message about being happy about who you are, and to accept your differences, and to accept people who are different.  Unfortunately, if Josephine was a real giraffe living in the wild, she would be at a very serious disadvantage compared to other giraffes, since she would be unable to reach higher branches to eat.  Sadly, she would probably starve to death, unless the other giraffes would save the low branches for her, which is not likely.

I picture Josephine as a representation of a child who has a disability or physical deformity.  Unfortunately, such a person is always going to be at a disadvantage in our society.  While not quite a disability, something that I suffer with is having a very different sleep / wake pattern than most other people.  As you can probably tell from the time of many of my posts (especially on the weekends), I am very much a night owl.  I don't get tired until late at night, but have to conform to a morning person schedule at work.  Unfortunately, no matter what I do, the time of day where I am most tired is when I would have to get up for work.  Since everyone else at my job is a morning person, they tend not to understand me.  There have been times where I have remained at work until well past midnight, but then will be reprimanded for being 5 minutes late to work the next day.  Also, most of my colleagues want to leave the office at 5:00 PM or shortly after, but are more than willing to arrive at the crack of dawn even on weekends.  I, on the other hand, need the weekends to catch up on my sleep.  Even if I get more work done than others and work more total hours, I get in trouble because I do whatever it takes to avoid working on weekends.  Fred would have told me to be happy about my difference, even though this difference causes me a lot of difficulty in life.  It limits my career choices, and forces me to waste much of my weekends by catching up on sleep that I didn't get during the week.

Leaving aside disabilities or deformities, much of our success is based on office politics.  For example, favorable treatment tends to be given to people such as the attractive woman who wears revealing clothing to work and gets drunk at the office party, the former school bully who the boss admires, and the people with interests similar to the rest of the group.  People like myself, who are different, tend to be blamed for the failures of others, and accused of being "defensive" or "throwing others under the bus" when I try to speak the truth and clear my name.  Again, this is an unfortunate aspect of life that Fred never really had to deal with.

Anyone here agree or disagree or have any more comments?  I'll post more comments when I think of them.

mjb1124

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2012, 12:11:56 AM »
Personally, I wish more people would listen to Mister Rogers' messages about taking your time, and about it being okay to be different.    I've always been a very "different" person and have often had to do things more slowly, but luckily I know people who have gotten to know me and are patient with me.    I think it is a shame that office politics favor people that are bullies, rather than people who are compassionate and take the time to get things done properly.   The way I see it, Fred wasn't trying to acclimate kids into society so much as he was trying to reshape society itself.    I do agree that perhaps older children would have been able to take in his messages more, but then again older kids might have been peer pressured into thinking that MRN wasn't "cool" anyway (the Arthur episode Fred appeared on pretty much centered around this).    Maybe he hoped that the adults who watched the show with their kids would be influenced by the messages as well.    I certainly think that many people of all ages could learn a lot about how to treat people from watching this show.

mitsguy2001

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2012, 12:19:43 AM »
That's a good point.  Unfortunately, Fred was unable to change society into what he wanted.  Not so much because he failed, but because no one person has the power to change our society so drastically.

See the thread that Betty started about marketing ("Never thought I'd see the day").  I wonder if MRN was more aggressively marketed, it if maybe could have reached more people and maybe had more of an impact on our society.  Also, I was suggesting that maybe Fred should have had a series that would be "cool" to older kids.  I can understand older kids finding MRN uncool, but I was thinking of a series with a format more geared toward older kids that they would find "cool".

silentxero

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 09:17:07 PM »
That's EXACTLY TRUE!! It'd be great to be able to take you time with everything but unfortunately this is completely unrealistic in today's society.
I realize that he was teaching children this message, but you need to keep up with the pace in order just to keep your job. Seriously, in the job market,
productivity is so essential as well as accuracy, and that's just to be able to keep your job and not even on the same ground as the ones who get promoted.
Mr.Rogers teaching was sincere and I guess he didn't want children to feel pressured, however that's the only way they're going to adapt in society. One reason why I hate Daniel Tiger SO MUCH is because he represents everything that's wrong with the mind set: that it's okay to be different, it's okay to be slow, it's okay to be shy and timid and not take chances. I have a physical disability that limits me from doing many things, however I have to WORK TWICE AS HARD and FAST to keep up with everyone else. I had to get over shyness,timidity, and had to face challenges without the "help" of my neighbors. I'm not saying that I never had people help me, but I couldn't depend on them as a constant crutch. Basically, I was Daniel Tiger, but that HAD to DIE. I'm 43 years old and am learning things now that kids are being taught in grade school. I have to focus and constantly apply myself to everything just to keep up, let alone try to get ahead. In the episode when it was the first day of school (which I happened to watch the day before I went into my freshman year of high school), it was basically stated that you'll learn these skills as you go along, no matter how long it takes, and that school is fun. Daniel didn't know his alphabet or his numbers and was freaking out because of it. Lady A was trying to assure him that he didn't need to worry about it. Sorry, but kids need to be ahead of the curb even before they begin school. Another thing that amused me was that there were only two other kids (Tuesday and Anna) in the whole FREAKING SCHOOL! Yeah, Okay! I have no idea what Daniels problem was as he already knew both Tuesday and the UGLY Anna, so he faced no adversity from other students he didn't know, there weren't any bullies, and the environment was violence free. Show that to a kid now! I went from a well organized Catholic Grade School into the BOWELS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL HELL in three months. I faced peer pressure, my parents divorced (what the hell happened to Daniels parents anyway, and why wasn't he living with an adult?), I was picked on constantly due to my disability, I got in fights to defend my self against bullies, I had so much freaking homework that my eyes wanted to bleed and was completely overwhelmed! Oh yeah, I wasn't granted an "it's okay, you'll learn as long as it takes" crap and that " It's okay to be different" crap! I had to FREAKING bust my butt just to get descent grades while I was going through a series of personal crisis that were completely distracting. Oh yeah, I was also going through puberty while all of this CRAP was happening! So the message of " Take your time" and "As long as it takes" and " It's okay to be different" is a LIE!!  I had to change the things I could change, overcome my obstacles,and face my fears. I Love you Mr. R, but you were a little off when it came to things in the real world, but I guess things were different in the LOMB.

mitsguy2001

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 08:40:23 PM »
That's EXACTLY TRUE!! It'd be great to be able to take you time with everything but unfortunately this is completely unrealistic in today's society.
I realize that he was teaching children this message, but you need to keep up with the pace in order just to keep your job. Seriously, in the job market,
productivity is so essential as well as accuracy, and that's just to be able to keep your job and not even on the same ground as the ones who get promoted.
Mr.Rogers teaching was sincere and I guess he didn't want children to feel pressured, however that's the only way they're going to adapt in society. One reason why I hate Daniel Tiger SO MUCH is because he represents everything that's wrong with the mind set: that it's okay to be different, it's okay to be slow, it's okay to be shy and timid and not take chances.

It is very unfortunate that or society is so intollerant of people (like myself) who are more like Daniel, and are "different", and slower paced.

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I have a physical disability that limits me from doing many things, however I have to WORK TWICE AS HARD and FAST to keep up with everyone else.

Sorry to hear about your disability.  It can be doubly hard, since not only do you have the challenges that come with a disability, but also discrimination for being "different".

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I had to get over shyness,timidity, and had to face challenges without the "help" of my neighbors. I'm not saying that I never had people help me, but I couldn't depend on them as a constant crutch. Basically, I was Daniel Tiger, but that HAD to DIE. I'm 43 years old and am learning things now that kids are being taught in grade school. I have to focus and constantly apply myself to everything just to keep up, let alone try to get ahead. In the episode when it was the first day of school (which I happened to watch the day before I went into my freshman year of high school), it was basically stated that you'll learn these skills as you go along, no matter how long it takes, and that school is fun. Daniel didn't know his alphabet or his numbers and was freaking out because of it. Lady A was trying to assure him that he didn't need to worry about it. Sorry, but kids need to be ahead of the curb even before they begin school.

I think that everyone needs someone that they can confide in.  For Daniel, that was Lady Aberlin.  Whatever he confided in Lady Aberlin would not be things that he would share with an employer or teacher.  But if you can't express feelings and have them validated, the feelings will bottle up and explode at the wrong time.

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Another thing that amused me was that there were only two other kids (Tuesday and Anna) in the whole FREAKING SCHOOL! Yeah, Okay! I have no idea what Daniels problem was as he already knew both Tuesday and the UGLY Anna, so he faced no adversity from other students he didn't know, there weren't any bullies, and the environment was violence free. Show that to a kid now!

I think bullying was less of a problem in 1979 (when that episode first aired) than it is now.  As I mentioned before, I was bullied in school.  But at the end of the school day, I'd go home, and the bullying would end.  Nowadays, with bullying moving to the internet, it happens 24/7/365.  If they were writing that week of episodes today, they might have to address bullying.

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I went from a well organized Catholic Grade School into the BOWELS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL HELL in three months. I faced peer pressure, my parents divorced (what the hell happened to Daniels parents anyway, and why wasn't he living with an adult?),

According to the files, in Episode 101 from the 1968 season, Daniel mentions that his mother used to whistle him to sleep.  I never saw that episode.  But that means that maybe Daniel has parents who were never seen on camera, or maybe they died sometime before 1968.  If his parents are still alive, then maybe what they wanted to show is that perhaps his parents never validated his feelings, and just told him to "grow up" or "be a man", so he maybe gave up on telling them anything, preferring to talk to Lady Aberlin.  When I did not like the way my parents reacted to me being bullied (they would tell me to "toughen up" or they'd find a way of saying it was my fault), I just stopped telling them that I was being bullied.  I would talk about it with others (as Daniel talks about his feelings with Lady Aberlin), just not with them.  So maybe that was what they were trying to show with Daniel.

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I was picked on constantly due to my disability, I got in fights to defend my self against bullies, I had so much freaking homework that my eyes wanted to bleed and was completely overwhelmed! Oh yeah, I wasn't granted an "it's okay, you'll learn as long as it takes" crap and that " It's okay to be different" crap! I had to FREAKING bust my butt just to get descent grades while I was going through a series of personal crisis that were completely distracting. Oh yeah, I was also going through puberty while all of this CRAP was happening! So the message of " Take your time" and "As long as it takes" and " It's okay to be different" is a LIE!!  I had to change the things I could change, overcome my obstacles,and face my fears. I Love you Mr. R, but you were a little off when it came to things in the real world, but I guess things were different in the LOMB.

i still argue that what my kindergarten teacher did was completely unforgiveable, by saying every time we had to line up "Joey is slow, so he has to go to the back of the line".  And then I would get in trouble if someone was even slower than me!  Wouldn't it have made more sense (if she felt that in order to fit into our culture I needed to speed up) to encorage me to be near the front of the line, in order to force me to speed up?  By forcing me to the back of the line, she was basically forcing me to be even slower!  Also, why should I be the one to get in trouble if someone was slower than me?  If you want to argue that being slow is unacceptable, shouldn't the person who was slower than me be the one to get punished?  I just cannot understand my teacher's logic.

I'd be curious to hear Betty Aberlin's opinion on this topic, if she is reading.  Most of the people who talk about how it's ok to be different are either people who came from rich families and were able to start their own business (such as Fred Rogers), or were able to find success in the artistic world (such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and even Betty).  Unfortunately, I'm not from a super-rich family, and I have absolutely no artistic ability at all, so I'm basically trapped in a corporate world that I don't fit into, and people like Fred Rogers, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift do not understand at all.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 08:51:27 PM by mitsguy2001 »

visigoth

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2012, 01:59:03 PM »
First, we have to keep in mind that Fred Rogers was an idealist, and realistic or not, we need idealists, especially when the ideals he espoused were kindness to others.

Also keep in mind that Mr. Rogers came from an earlier age when life wasn't as complicated and people were not as stressed out.

I think that's why I still gravitate to his show.  It reminds me of a time in my life when things were much simpler and all I had to worry about was school.  When I watched it I was in the 5th & 6th grade, when I was technically way too old for it.  Even though it would be the furthest thing from cool for my agegroup, and it was completely different than anything else I liked, there was something about it that appealled to me. 

The bigger issue is Fred telling us to be happy to be different.  Part of that is because Fred came from extreme wealth, and was able to start his own business, and he never experienced being on the receiving end of office politics.  We discussed bullying in another thread.  As a kid, I didn't let it bother me so much that I was bullied and that I was so different from other kids.  I didn't care too much about what other students and teachers thought of me.  I was happy to be different, and didn't ever feel the need to be like everyone else.

Unfortunately, in the real world, most of the bosses are the former bullies from school, and they tend not to tolerate anyone who is different.

The workplace has gotten much more stressfull, complicated and uncertain since Mr. Rogers formative days.  In his day it was typical to go to work for a company and retire from the same company.  Now it is more chaotic with companies looking to cut costs and employees at every turn.

Also I think bosses and people in general have gotten nastier and more demanding.

« Last Edit: September 03, 2012, 02:26:05 PM by visigoth »

visigoth

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2012, 02:06:19 PM »
i still argue that what my kindergarten teacher did was completely unforgiveable, by saying every time we had to line up "Joey is slow, so he has to go to the back of the line".  And then I would get in trouble if someone was even slower than me!  Wouldn't it have made more sense (if she felt that in order to fit into our culture I needed to speed up) to encorage me to be near the front of the line, in order to force me to speed up?  By forcing me to the back of the line, she was basically forcing me to be even slower!  Also, why should I be the one to get in trouble if someone was slower than me?  If you want to argue that being slow is unacceptable, shouldn't the person who was slower than me be the one to get punished?  I just cannot understand my teacher's logic.

I'm not sure when you went to school, but some things that teachers did when I went to school in the 1960s would never be tolerated now.  I remember when we got a new student who the teacher spoke about before he came to class.  She commented that he was "a little sick in the head."  That type of thing would not be tolerated these days and would result in a law suit if his parents got wind of it.  I believe the kid she referred to might have had a behavioral issue or two, but don't remember him setting the school on fire or anything like that.

mitsguy2001

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2012, 04:53:24 PM »
Visigoth: I definitely would have fit in better in the workplace during the era that you described in your previous post!  Too bad we can't go back to that era.  I think the reason why bosses have become nastier is because it is the former school bullies that,  unfortunately, are the ones becoming the bosses nowadays.

mitsguy2001

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2012, 04:58:17 PM »

I'm not sure when you went to school, but some things that teachers did when I went to school in the 1960s would never be tolerated now.

I started kindergarten in September 1984.  So it was a while after you did, but long enough ago that things may have changed.  That year was the last year that teacher taught before retiring, so she likely started teaching during the era that many of your teachers did.

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  I remember when we got a new student who the teacher spoke about before he came to class.  She commented that he was "a little sick in the head."  That type of thing would not be tolerated these days and would result in a law suit if his parents got wind of it.  I believe the kid she referred to might have had a behavioral issue or two, but don't remember him setting the school on fire or anything like that.

I actually had a teacher in 11th grade (1995-96 school year) tell the class that I was "On medication" (which was not even true).  Based on past experiences, I did not tell my parents, knowing that they would likely take the teacher's side.  To that teacher's credit, he did profusely aplogize the next day.  So, I have no way of knowing what the outcome would have been if my parents had taken my side and made a big deal about it.  But even that was long enough ago that things may have changed since then.

visigoth

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2012, 10:43:03 PM »
Visigoth: I definitely would have fit in better in the workplace during the era that you described in your previous post! 

So would I.  And I would expect most of us would as well.  Though I am sure it was far from perfect, I would guess that it was less stressful than today.

visigoth

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2012, 10:56:59 PM »
I started kindergarten in September 1984.  So it was a while after you did, but long enough ago that things may have changed.  That year was the last year that teacher taught before retiring, so she likely started teaching during the era that many of your teachers did.

I started Kindergarden in the late 1960s.

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I actually had a teacher in 11th grade (1995-96 school year) tell the class that I was "On medication" (which was not even true).  Based on past experiences, I did not tell my parents, knowing that they would likely take the teacher's side.  To that teacher's credit, he did profusely aplogize the next day.  So, I have no way of knowing what the outcome would have been if my parents had taken my side and made a big deal about it.  But even that was long enough ago that things may have changed since then.

A teacher revealling personal info about a student is grossly inappropriate.  I am sorry that this happened to you.

I imagine Fred Rogers' upbringing was pretty idealic, especially when compared to today.  I remember eading in a book about him that he did have experience being bullied, but he managed to make friends with them.  This is a relatively benign situation compared to what most people face.  Undoubtedly, all of this colored his perceptions.

Mr. Rogers is a kiddie show aimed at young children, so really what can he say to them in terms of realisically preparing them for life.  The Profane comedian Dennis Leary has this mock kiddies song title, "Life's gonna suck when you grow up."  The song itself doesn't really get dirty, but I'm not sure quoting it would set me good with the moderators.

I thought Mr. Rogers show was a bit la-de-da when I watched it, though I was way older than the demographic it was aimed at.  But there was a niceness to him, his on show neighborhood, and the neighborhood of make believe that kept me interested.

mitsguy2001

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2012, 12:22:17 AM »
Quote
I actually had a teacher in 11th grade (1995-96 school year) tell the class that I was "On medication" (which was not even true).  Based on past experiences, I did not tell my parents, knowing that they would likely take the teacher's side.  To that teacher's credit, he did profusely aplogize the next day.  So, I have no way of knowing what the outcome would have been if my parents had taken my side and made a big deal about it.  But even that was long enough ago that things may have changed since then.

A teacher revealling personal info about a student is grossly inappropriate.  I am sorry that this happened to you.

And it was untrue personal info (I was not on any medication).  There was an error on my medical record, which may have been what cause him to think that.  Around the same time, I had a teacher write me up for insubordination when I claimed that my "medical problem" was an error (though the assistant principal took my side in that situation).

visigoth

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2012, 04:18:16 PM »
I understand, mitsguy2001.  Whether it was true or not the teacher had no business mentioning it to the class. 

mitsguy2001

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Re: Criticism of MRN from an adult's point of view
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2012, 07:37:19 PM »
Trying to revive this thread: maybe people can try to answer these questions:

1. Did you take Fred's message to heart, such as Fred saying that it's good to be different, and that you should take your time when doing things?

2. What was your experience in school, if you were different, or if you took your time doing things?

3. On another thread, some people thought that Fred was trying to prepare kids for working-class careers.  I do not agree, and in fact, I feel that Fred's values were more intended to prepare kids for an artistic career.  What do you think?  If you feel that MRN did prepare kids for working class careers, what makes you think that it did?

Betty, if you are reading, I am especially interested to hear your response to this thread (not necessarily the questions asked in this post), since you were involved with the show, and maybe knew what Fred's motivation was.