Today is World Kindness Day. So along with many of my co-workers I’ll be donning my #bekind shirt and sportin’ a cardigan. . . admittedly, the cardigan wear is not atypical for me. Many spots online connect this day with Fred Rodgers. I’ve always known Mr. Rogers was nice and kind, but in reading about him lately, I’ve come to realize he was an educational genius
His programs were meticulously scanned to make sure they met with early child education research. He would comb over the scripts to make sure that the lessons were appropriate developmentally for his viewers. It wasn’t so much about what he said as it was about ensuring what they heard. His way of speaking and communicating became jokingly known as Freddish.
Fundamentally, Freddish anticipated the ways its listeners might misinterpret what was being said. For instance. . . (in) a scene in a hospital in which a nurse inflating a blood-pressure cuff originally said “I’m going to blow this up.” Greenwald (a former producer of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood) 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.”Maxwell King, The Atlantic, 2018
While this might sound extreme–what kids would really cover their ears?–If you’ve worked with kids, you know this might be an ultimate kindness, for little humans trying to make sense of the world. And who knows, it might be a kindness if we would employ this level of thoughtfulness when speaking to anyone, regardless of their age. So today I am thankful for this man who not only reminds us to be kind, but encourages us all to think more about the words we speak. For a Language Arts teacher, there’s nothing much better–except maybe a day where it’s finally cool to wear a cardigan.