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How Learning Science Is Catching Up To Mr. Rogers

The popular film this summer shows how the topics — and the format — Fred Rogers brought to TV are as relevant to education and child development as they ever were.
Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood in the 1980s. Source: Getty Images

Editor's note on Aug. 8, 2018: This piece has been substantially updated from a version published in 2014.

A solemn little boy with a bowl haircut is telling Mr. Rogers that his pet got hit by a car. More precisely, he's confiding this to Daniel Striped Tiger, the hand puppet that, Rogers' wife, Joanne, says, "pretty much was Fred."

"That's scary," says Daniel/Fred. He asks for a hug. The boy hugs the tiger. Not a dry eye in the house.

That scene is from Won't You Be My Neighbor, the hit documentary airing across the country with a 99 percent rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

At first, such a film might seem superfluous. Why make a movie about a man who appeared as himself in hundreds

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