Mr Rogers is an American institution. For decades he wrote and hosted a benign children’s television show where he delivered a simple message about self-esteem and the difficulties of growing up. He dealt with children’s emotions and anxieties and re-assured them that they were “special.” Now he is being accused by Fox News of being evil because he delivered a false message and now a whole generation of children have grown up into adults who expect success in life even if then have not earned it.
The Fox analysis is based on the comments of a finance professor from Louisiana State University, who was complaining about the fact that more and more students where asking for their papers to be regraded to a higher level. Prof. Don Chance said, “They felt so entitled, and it just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers.” In contrast, his Asian students who didn’t watch Mr Rogers saw their B’s and C’s as an indication that they must work harder. He wishes more parents would offer kids this perspective: “The world owes you nothing. You have to work and compete. If you want to be special, you’ll have to prove it.”
I have a lot of sympathy for this but equally, the finance professor does not know what he is talking about. Asian students have a totally different mindset to their Western counterparts and its nothing to do with Mr. Rogers. I have the same students coming to my door in the UK asking for the same re-evaluation. They have never seen Mr Rogers either or endured the whole self-esteem ethos that is so prevalent in the US.
I think that there is something wrong in the way that we have created a culture of evaluation where targets have to be met. As soon as you set a target, you get inevitable grade inflation. In fact, grade inflation is one of my major concerns as it is distorting the whole of the educational system. Every year, schools are churning out more and more students with top grades and we are no longer able to distinguish between the very best and the mediocre. And of course, a student who has been getting A’s at school finds it difficult to accept when they get a low grade at University.
It’s not Mr Rogers to blame but I do agree with the gist of the piece. Or maybe I am turning into a grumpy old professor too.
23 responses to “Mr Rogers is ‘Evil’ According to Fox News”
I too have struggled with dealing with the “self-esteem” generation. I have been frustrated with the disconnect between accomplishment and esteem, between effort and praise. Everybody gets a trophy, everybody gets an athletic letter. It seems that the bar has been lowered in an effort to preserve everyone’s self esteem. Hollow isn’t it – to get praise and reward without earning it. Does not this ultimately lower one’s self valuation? And the costs of this are evident in the work place as well as at university. There was an interesting article in the Ladies Home Journal (May ’09) called Workplace Wars (http://bit.ly/dlLtlo ). I’m very curious about the etiology of this parenting style. Is Mr. Rogers the new Dr. Spock?
I think that there is a subtle difference between the “praise for everyone” that geraldguild rightly expresses concern about vs. the unconditional self-esteem from Mr. Rogers.
One of the problems with excessive and/or generalized praise is that it undermines the desire to achieve for achievement’s sake. There’s famous experiments where, for example, kids were asked to draw something, and then one group was praised for how good their drawing was, while the other’s just had their drawings accepted without comment. The former group rapidly lost interest in drawing and would only do so with encouragement and/or the promise of reward, while in the latter group kids were far more likely to engage in the activity for its own sake.
Specific, highly-directed praise — preferably in the form of a description of what was accomplished rather than vague “good job!” — is still worthwhile, e.g. for a drawing, rather than saying, “What a great drawing!”, you might say, “I really like the color you used for the sun” or something, I dunno.
When “everybody gets a trophy” just for trying, this is completely undirected praise, with no underlying message. Not only does this de-incentivize people to try harder, but perhaps even more damaging is that if “everybody gets a trophy”, now the recipients subconciously start to wonder why they should even participate in anything if they aren’t going to “get a trophy” as a reward.
On the contrary, the message from Mr. Rogers is that you are a good person and that there is fundamental value in each person, i.e. unconditional self-esteem. This is subtly but critically different than generalized/excessive praise. “You get recognized and/or rewarded no matter what” is not the same as “Whether you are recognized and/or rewarded, you are still okay.”
I concur that grade inflation is a major problem at universities. When I was at ODU, I refused to give athletes grades simply for showing up to class. I made those who received an A in my class work for it.
However, the prevalent sense of entitlement that pervades this generation has nothing to do with Mr. Rogers. If we are to blame anything in society (besides parental pampering), then look to any television show in which the adults are made to look stupid, look to any song that praises riches over work . . . Oh wait, our parents’ generation said the same thing. Didn’t they?
Mr. Rogers promoted treating others well, respecting others. He never said that everyone should get an A or a trophy.
As for the dichotomy between Asian students and American students, that is most definitely attributed to culture and not to Mr. Rogers’ viewing. Coming from an Asian background I know all too well the expectations of doing well in school.
#1 Like Randy Newman says: College men from LSU/Went in dumb come out dumb too.
#2 It is true that America is filled with entitled brats but it is not because of Mr. Rogers – it is a result of Assholes raising Assholes, a phenomenon I witness daily in my work as a preschool teacher and also as a pedestrian in New York City. In fact, Assholes Raising Assholes is a central theme in The Menopausal Stoners Guide to Parenting – which I will start writing (I swear) as soon as I get back from my kid’s court date later this month.
#3 I have just spent nearly a week with a preacher in residence. I can understand why people might draw a connection between sex and corpses – and that’s all I intend to say about that on the internet 😉
“…more and more students where asking for their papers to be regraded to a higher level. ”
That’s because people are being taught to question authority.
We have an additional ‘problem’ in that we have been in a prolonged period of low unemployment and very high demand for skills. That may have skewed younger people’s expectations relative to the expectations of young people 10 years ago. Luckily the skilled and talented bankers have fixed that problem for us…
Having little exposure to Mr. Rogers I cannot offer intelligent commentary on his influence on this trend of obvious concern. I really do wonder how the parenting approach that produced this outcome came to be the norm. My Spock/Rogers question was satirical. But really, how did this happen? I’m a behavioral psychologist and I had to work hard – often swimming against the strong current – alone – when raising my children. I did my doctoral training in the late 80s and early 90s – and was not exposed to learned scholars proffering the approach that typifies the zeitgeist out there. Who knows the answer? Bruce??
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I think you people blame mr.rogers because your losers, and you were most likely raised by losers.
Mr rogers was the best!
This is an absolute travesty. These “conservatives” who want to lambaste Mr. Rogers for telling kids they are special. I guess Jesus, who also believed that we were all special just for being who we are is equally responsible for the “narcissistic society”. These people are so far out in left field it is pathetic. I guess that anyone who expresses a belief in the basic and intrinsic value of a human being just for being who God made him or her is contributing to this narcissism.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – King David, narcissist
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – God –
Clearly God is attempting to make us all narcissists, because being made in His image makes us all special. Further, in giving us dominion over the earth, he inflated our feelings of self worth, and made us feel entitled, considering we didn’t have to “work for it”.
But to the pundits of Fox News, in all their piety, perhaps the Lord was speaking to them when he said:
“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ …”
Something to think about? Hmm, I wonder…
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I think the ‘Special’ news commentators on FOX News missed his message. Or they would not spew the falsehoods, accusations and bombastic name callling. Their presence on TV encourages people to vulgar, hateful andf rigid in their beilefs to the point whre there is not room for love, compromise or walking in anothere’s shoes.
Fox is controlled by the same people who control the entertainment industry, the government, education system, the banks and most of all the world. Fox only spews propaganda because they are instructed to do so by their overlords, its something you should research on. Interestingly Fox is one of the many newscasters under that one owner. Who’s name I keep forgetting
It’s a Children’s show, not a false message. Half of America or more grew up watching Mr. Rodgers. I loved him. He’s passed away don’t ruin his appearance and show. Many people struggle with self-esteem. He is just showing that its good to keep your head up even when you have struggles. Fox News has no idea who he really is. Don’t ruin people childhoods! Mr. Rogers is an amazing and inspiring childhood character!!!
As I can recall, Mr.Rogers always spoke the sentence; I like you just the way you are. That sentence can be interpreted in many ways. So far it makes sense that it means we have to feel content with ourselves regardless if we are different in other ways. That sentence does not mean that we are all winners nor we are all entitled to awards such as trophies or certificates. However it does mean that we can be capable of being successful, success is something that can be reached on an individual level, which therefore cannot be measured through materialistic values. Our individual success can lead to trophies , plaques or certificates. But we must only count those as results not goals. This article made by Fox blames Mr. Rogers for making our youth entitled, only because our youth wants trophies, awards good grades. etc. That materialistic goal focused only on awards is not the mentality Mr. Rogers wants children to have, nor any of his older viewers, especially the educated and sound minded ones ever want to adapt. Fox fails to understand that it is not Mr. Rogers, but the modern pop culture that has made our youth entitled. Like many news stations , they refuse to speak the truth; bash justin bieber, jonas brothers, britney spears, jay z, beyonce and many modern celebrities for causing gen y to be entitled. They rather cover it up because according to recent evidence, they are also controlled by the same powerful overlords in control of the entertainment industry. Asian Americans are always glorified and praised by the modern media for being more smart and successful than the Anglo Saxon Americans. They seem to have the capability to become rich and powerful. However they lack what many Americans have, that is substance and principle. Many Asian Americans only equate success with the narrow path of higher education good grades, high paying job, and the material perks that come with it all. They forget that they conform to this path only to satisfy the shallow and complex demands of their parents and society. They do not understand that they have wasted their lives trying to be someone else, not themselves. Mr. Rogers wants young people to be themselves, make their own decisions and be proud of it. Those are the principles many Asians Americans parents leave out in their rearing. Mr Rogers Neighborhood is the most watched show in the US from 1968-2001. But it is only watched by the Anglo-Saxon and African American audience. Asian Americans have never watched his show. Their avoidance of the show has made them constantly fearful of themselves and try their best to please everyone starting at age 4. So its no wonder why Whites and Blacks have the capacity to open their mind to all possibilities when times get rough, rather than constantly blaming themselves. Asians on the other hand tend to self blame and even mutilate, when going through hard times. Why do they do this. Guess what they were never taught to believe in themselves and feel content with just the way they are. They were never taught to understand life is a big expensive gift. More expensive than a new escalade or an Xbox one. This is why many of them kill themselves just for failing a class. I am lucky to be one of the few Asian Filipino Americans who were able to watch Mr. Rogers. Its because of his messages to feel content with yourself that I have a much more larger perspective on life. I do think we are all capable of success, that is through individual skills and talents. If we reach success the rewards will come in all forms, whether it is good grades, trophies, medals, prizes, emmys ,grammys, peabodys , stars, or just simply recognition and remembrance. It can be possible for everyone to make it big. It just takes time patience and effort.
Who was it who said “Yes we can” ?
Not all of us can, and can what ?
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This is fricken ridiculous. Fred Rogers didn’didn’t create entitlement in this generation. Their parents did.
Mr. Rogers is not evil!!!!! He is a very nice man!!!
If rogers was good theres no way he would pass media content. Hollywood owns it. >honoring Sleepy Hallow & Halloween.
Keep it up u are unveiling facts. He is a church minister. Minister meaning slave. Church meaning circa or circus. Jesus vs Satan