by Leon Rosenshein

Won't You Be My Neighbor

My daughter is a teacher at the local JCC and as part of their continuing education program I had the opportunity to see Won't you be my neighbor, the story of Fred Rogers and Mr Rogers' Neighborhood. I grew up with his show and jumped at the chance to see it. As an added bonus, there was a short presentation by Hedda Sharapan, who was part of the show from the beginning and is a Senior Fellow at the Fred Rogers Center. Many of you in Pittsburg are very familiar with his story, and he's not a stranger to most of us, so I won't go into details about his story. You're probably wondering what Mr Rogers' Neighborhood has to do with software and autonomous vehicles. I admit when I went in I didn't expect much of a connection, but a few of things Hedda and the documentary said struck a chord so I thought I'd bring it up here.

The first was his focus on making sure we expected and accepted mistakes. Of course, in the show the message was aimed at children, but it applies to people of all ages. Just like children, we're doing things that neither we (nor anyone else) have ever done before. There will be highs and lows. Celebrate the achievements and learn from the setbacks. Blameless incident reports are a great example

That leads to the second, reflection. Hedda said that one the Mr. Rogers said that she always remembered was that television was the only appliance that was at its most powerful when it was off. While he thought much of children's TV wasn't very good, what he really meant was that what was important wasn't the show, but the reflection and conversation afterward. Again, a message for everyone. We learn things and make decisions all the time. It's important to take the time to go back and think about what we've seen and done. Was it the right thing at the time? Is it still the right thing? What should we change and what should we do going forward?

Thirdly, diversity. Of course I don't think he ever used the word diversity, and it was never an explicit topic. It simply was part of the neighborhood and how Mr Rogers' world was. Everyone is unique and special. Accept people for who they are. We all have something to offer, whether you use Vim, Emacs, or Notepad++

Finally, just to bring this back to tech, here's Fred Rogers' approach to STEAM.