All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

I like to read the newspaper and watch the news, but sometimes, I find it can be overwhelming, enlightening, and depressing all at once. I often wonder what drives people to act the way they do and ponder how things end up the way that they do. I know that there are lots of good things that happen that just don’t make the news. The news is full of things that we have no control over – like natural disasters, and then comes the other kind of news. The stuff like Donald Stirling (LA Clippers owner) who was banned by the NBA this week for life and fined $2.5 million for making racist comments caught on an audio recording. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It makes me wonder if people don’t remember or know of Robert Fulghum’s masterpiece entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”.

I think there’s something to be said for getting back to the basics. After all, Kindergarten was a really great time. We might have had problems, but we were much better at solving them than we are as we get older. Same principles apply though which brings me to this:

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Robert L. Fulghum. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  Ballantine Books, 2003 (1986, 1988) ISBN: 034546639-X, pp.1-3.

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