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Sat Jun 9, 2018, 07:44 AM

Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children

As I read this wonderful essay, I thought of the refugee kids in the cruel prisons-cages across America. I can't imagine how afraid these kids must be.





Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/mr-rogers-neighborhood-talking-to-kids/562352/

The TV legend possessed an extraordinary understanding of how kids make sense of language.
Maxwell King
Jun 8, 2018


For the millions of adults who grew up watching him on public television, Fred Rogers represents the most important human values: respect, compassion, kindness, integrity, humility. On Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the show that he created 50 years ago and starred in, he was the epitome of simple, natural ease.

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But as I write in my forthcoming book, The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, Rogers’s placidity belied the intense care he took in shaping each episode of his program. He insisted that every word, whether spoken by a person or a puppet, be scrutinized closely, because he knew that children—the preschool-age boys and girls who made up the core of his audience—tend to hear things literally.

As Arthur Greenwald, a former producer of the show, put it to me, “There were no accidents on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” He took great pains not to mislead or confuse children, and his team of writers joked that his on-air manner of speaking amounted to a distinct language they called “Freddish.”

Fundamentally, Freddish anticipated the ways its listeners might misinterpret what was being said. For instance, Greenwald mentioned a scene in a hospital in which a nurse inflating a blood-pressure cuff originally said “I’m going to blow this up.” Greenwald recalls: “Fred made us redub the line, saying, ‘I’m going to puff this up with some air,’ because ‘blow it up’ might sound like there’s an explosion, and he didn’t want the kids to cover their ears and miss what would happen next.”


The show’s final cuts reflected many similarly exacting interventions. Once, Rogers provided new lyrics for the “Tomorrow” song that ended each show to ensure that children watching on Friday wouldn’t expect a show on Saturday, when the show didn’t air. And Rogers’s secretary, Elaine Lynch, remembered how, when one script referred to putting a pet “to sleep,” he excised it for fear that children would be worried about the idea of falling asleep themselves.

Rogers was extraordinarily good at imagining where children’s minds might go. For instance, in a scene in which he had an eye doctor using an ophthalmoscope to peer into his eyes, he made a point of having the doctor clarify that he wasn’t able to see Rogers’s thoughts. Rogers also wrote a song called “You Can Never Go Down the Drain” because he knew that drains were something that, to kids, seemed to exist solely to suck things down.....................................




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Fred Rogers resting near a trolley on a TV set
Fred Rogers on the set of Mr. Rogers's Neighborhood in 1993Gene J. Puskar / AP

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Reply Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children (Original post)
riversedge Jun 2018 OP
Phoenix61 Jun 2018 #1
Aristus Jun 2018 #2
dooner Jun 2018 #3
Kablooie Jun 2018 #4

Response to riversedge (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2018, 08:40 AM

1. A wonderful, wonderful man.

Check out his acceptance speech for his lifetime achievement award.

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Response to riversedge (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2018, 10:31 AM

2. I loved Mr. Rogers as a kid.

And then, like a lot of cynical teenagers, I mocked his gentle sincerity and slow speech.

Then as an adult, not long before he died, I realized what a national treasure he was.

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Response to riversedge (Original post)

Sat Jun 9, 2018, 11:26 AM

3. Maybe we should talk to MAGA crowd like Mr. Rogers

Maybe we need a Mr. Rogers filter to try and explain things to the folks who watch Fox News.
A gentle calming voice, very simple concepts...

Here are some of his "rules"

There were nine steps for translating into Freddish:

“State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” Example: It is dangerous to play in the street. ​​​​​​

“Rephrase in a positive manner,” as in It is good to play where it is safe.

“Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” As in, “Ask your parents where it is safe to play.”

“Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” In the example, that’d mean getting rid of “ask”: Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.

“Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.” That’d be “will”: Your parents can tell you where it is safe to play.

“Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.” Not all children know their parents, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play.

“Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.” Perhaps: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is good to listen to them.

“Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.” “Good” represents a value judgment, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.

“Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development a preschooler can understand.” Maybe: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.


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Response to riversedge (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2018, 10:24 PM

4. Woody Allen could use that "You Can Never Go Down the Drain" song.

He always has his shower drains put off center because he's scared of standing right over it.

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