Dear Mr. Rogers, someone still wants to be your neighbor

By on October 25, 2011

By J. Wesley Wilson–

I recently saw a video posted to Facebook about a childhood friend of ours. He probably welcomed you home from school most afternoons.

He taught you about what adults did for a living and that you could do these things too someday. He let you know how special you were every day and that you were fine just the way you are. And he always wanted you to be his neighbor.

His name was Mr. Rogers, and I still consider him a friend. However, according to the Fox News’ morning show, “Fox and Friends”, a growing number of academics think that Mr. Rogers letting us know how special we all were did more harm than good.

The argument is that when Mr. Rogers told us that we were fine just the way we were, he should have been telling us that we were far from perfect. In essence, Mr. Rogers is a figurehead of the 1990s child-rearing technique of “babying” the babies.

One of the main facts that the opponents of the Mr. Rogers attitude point to is the rise in college students asking for extra credit when they did not receive an A in one of their courses. The explanation is that all of the ego boosting we received during our childhood from people like Mr. Rogers gave our generation a sense of entitlement. Apparently, according to this logic, we feel that we deserve an A just because we showed up to class and worked hard.

I couldn’t disagree with this more. I’ve heard my fair share of stories about students asking for extra credit, but I know far more students who constantly comb over their work because they never feel it’s good enough for the A that they supposedly feel entitled to.

For example, every time I write an article for this newspaper or an essay for a philosophy course, I can never help but feel my work is inadequate. There’s always a sentence that could have better structure or an idea that wasn’t expressed clearly enough.

If I was a victim of this constant ego boosting, why do I always feel that my work isn’t worthy of a good grade? If I felt I was entitled to an A, then it follows that I would feel as though I do work worthy of the best grade possible.

This attitude I see in my peers as well as myself also manifests when we actually receive our grades as well. When my friends and I get that dreaded C, the first thing that pops in our heads isn’t “That was definitely an A.” Instead, it is along the lines of “I really need to get it together.”

Maybe it’s just everyone that I’ve been acquainted with during my years here at the University of Louisville, but it doesn’t seem to me that Mr. Rogers did us any harm when he boosted our self-esteem every afternoon. If your childhood experience was anything like mine, you had enough reminding you that you weren’t special. There was always a kid around to let you know there’s room for improvement – someone who could build Legos better or run faster than you. Mr. Rogers was a welcome distraction from that harsh reality.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy Staplenews.com

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