Friday, September 25, 2009

This just in: if it weren't for Mr. Rogers, we'd all be weaving sweaters

If this is some joke, and I've mistaken it for an actual broadcast, I'd be relieved.

This clip was posted on YouTube in May 2008, and it references an article from the Wall Street Journal dating back to 2007. So this is old news, but it's new to me.

You may have noticed that I like Mr. Rogers. I think I really started to admiring him after reading Dear Mr. Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?: Letters to Mr. Rogers. I was impressed by how patient he was and the care he took with each letter.

I was going to talk more about how Mr. Rogers does make kids feel entitled. Entitled to be treated as a worthy human being with basic rights.

I was also going to point out the value of positive reinforcement.

But something else caught my eye. Listen very carefully to the clip and then look at the article.

The article talks about Professor Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University. That's finance. Not psychology. Not sociology. Not child development. He didn't do the research. He's just talking about his own experiences and opinions.

The article does reference "a recent (in 2007) study led by a San Diego State University psychologist." But they don't say anything about the study examining the effect of watching Mr. Rogers on children. According to the article, the study finds "signs of narcissism among college students have been rising for 25 years." That's all it says. (And I can't even begin to figure out what study they're referring to.)

The clip from Fox News blurs the opinions of Professor Chance with this study out of San Diego State University. All of a sudden this finance professor's opinion is being considered the equivalent of empirical research.

This Fox News clip also refers to the "research" done comparing Asian students to American students. But the original article doesn't site specific research on Asian and American students. It says "Prof. Chance teaches many Asian-born students, and says they accept whatever grade they're given..."

If that isn't bad enough, here's the knitting related quote. (Look for it in the middle of the clip, in response to the e-mail from the lady who also blames Sesame Street and Dr. Spock.):

"It would be better if we went to school, went home and then made the butter, milked the cow and went onto the loom and made our own sweaters."

Now you can weave a sweater. (Isn't Elizabeth Zimmerman's Bog Coat based on a way to make a sweater out of a piece of weaving?) But I don't think that's what this guy is referring to. We all know Mr. Roger's sweaters are knitted.

Or maybe he's right. I watched Mr. Rogers growing up, and I've never woven a sweater in my life. (A scarf, yes, but not a sweater.)

In related news, have you seen Outfoxed?

You can see the entire documentary here.

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