I just went to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which is about the children's show host Fred Rogers, whom I discovered not long ago through a mention of his 1969 testimony to the US Senate to secure funding for his show.

When I first watched that testimony I was so taken by it that I read everything I could find on the net about Fred Rogers and watched episodes of the show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." (The show was never broadcast in New Zealand, where I grew up, as far as I know.)

While I was watching the film, I had many thoughts about the skill of interacting with children and educating in general. My overriding impression, however, was how Rogers was able to create a world in which he was permitted to be authentically himself (his rather eclectic self) in all his interactions, and thus be incredibly effective as a communicator. Whether this was through stubbornness, persistence, or simply from not knowing any different way to proceed, I still can't say.

Fred Rogers certainly seemed to spend less effort trying to tell others what they wanted to hear and present himself as he thought they might want him to (a cognitively difficult task that almost everyone performs constantly - the technical psychological term for it escapes me for the moment). Perhaps his work with children was so important to him that he could not allow himself to be less than genuine and honest with anyone he interacted with.

I was also struck by Rogers' insights into the medium of television. I think it must have been his show I saw referenced in an article I read in the eighties about the effect of too-rapid cuts on the state of mind of an audience. I'm still trying to work out how to avoid that in my own videos.

I watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood at a real old-time one-screen picture theatre. I sat in the front row and put my feet on the stage. After it was over, I forgot my backpack in the theatre.