I find this hard to believe, but not one single student in my class knows who Fred Rogers was.
And Mr. Rogers Neighborhood?
Never heard of it.
In fact, the adult in my classroom at the time of this discussion – someone much younger than me – has also never seen Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and was only vaguely aware of its existence.
The show ran for 33 years. It was a staple of children’s television until 2001.
Now it’s all but forgotten.
You can still watch Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on Amazon Prime, and PBSKids.org has a permanent player which airs vintage episodes of the series on a rotating basis, but in the span of just two decades, a man who was once known by just about every human being in America is completely unknown by the people he wanted to reach most:
It’s astounding. And so deeply disappointing.
Fred Rogers died in 2003. Less than 20 years after his death, this icon of American television and role model for hundreds of millions of children around the world – entire generations of kids – is fading away.
He not even being forgotten. He’s never being known.
I’ll be sticking my kids in front of the television this weekend and showing them an episode of the show. It’s probably too late for my 12 and 9-year old to fall in love with Fred Rogers like I did as a child, but I’ll at least make sure that they know who he was and what he meant to children for so long.