Vs. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Posted: October 15, 2011 in Books
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Here’s the deal.  In 1988, Robert Fulghum published a book that would remain on the New York Times Bestseller List for nearly two years – All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  Why did so many people buy this book?  Apparently they went to a worse kindergarten than Robert. 

I think that about 92% of the darling tidbits that can be found in these type of gifty, pseudo self-help books are useless, repetitive drivel.  And I have multiple issues with the suggestion that after kindergarten we’re all set in the knowledge department.

Firstly, let’s look at some standard kindergarten rules.  Raise your hand to speak.  Put things back where you found them.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Always do your best.  Clearly, there are some things we learn in kindergarten that are simply no longer applicable in adult life. 

Come on, how annoying and inconvenient would it be if we all had to raise our hand to speak in daily life?  How would we know whether or not we were in the middle of a press conference?

And if adults always put things back where they found them, there would be no new inventions – what if, for example, H.B. Reese (and, yes, he was a real guy) always put the peanut butter and the chocolate back where he found it?  Nobody wants to live in that world.   

What about keeping your hands to yourself?  I agree that this is a good rule for kids.  But if adults followed this rule…we wouldn’t be able to make any new kids.

Robert Fulghum (2007)

Fulghum, signing books and discussing the bowtie lessons he learned in kindergarten

I may be the only one who has a problem with people suggesting that we always do our best, but I’m adamant.  It’s this over-achieving attitude that gets us into problems like the 110% nonsense (full thoughts on this can be found here).  But there’s a real basic issue with always doing your best.  If you always do your best, you can never in your life impress anyone by doing better.  The very concept of better won’t even exist for you.  That’s why I always give no more than 81%…that leaves me plenty of room to do even better, should the need ever arise.

Of course, the more glaring error in the book is all of the things we desperately need to know that our clearly not taught in kindergarten.  Before Mr. Fulghum was a published author, he was a salesman for IBM…I wonder if he learned how to sell computers in kindergarten?  We don’t learn to drive a car in kindergarten.  We don’t learn how to balance our checkbook in kindergarten.  And we don’t learn how to format a resume in kindergarten.  Honestly, we barely learn anything in kindergarten.  We don’t even learn how to spell kindergarten in kindergarten.

Which brings me to my final problem with this concept – what do we really learn in kindergarten?  Some of the things Fulghum lists as having learned there include not hitting, cleaning up after yourself and being kind.  I, for one, didn’t learn any of these things in kindergarten…I learned them from my parents.  I fear Fulgum must have had very lazy parents…“Do you think we should we teach little Robbie to share?”  “Nah, he’ll learn that where he’ll learn everything else he needs to know in life – in kindergarten.”  The truth is, if haven’t already learned these basic concepts by the time we get to kindergarten, we’re in for a tough life.  Perhaps a better title would have been Some of the Things I Really Need to Know Were Reinforced in Kindergarten.      

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I convince people that all they really need to know they definitely did not learn in kindergarten?  What’s the point?  If there really is anybody out there functioning with only the knowledge they acquired in kindergarten…they couldn’t read this anyway.

  1. *Raises hand*
    I have a question.

  2. heathersnyder1 says:

    What I learned in Kindergarten:
    *There are certain things I should not put in my mouth:
    –soap (although it makes really huge-a$$ bubbles when you blow it out your mouth! Kids try it at home)
    –finger paint (it is not pudding)
    –little toys
    *I also learned to not hit **** in the face with my lunchbox for making fun of my looks. (She knows who she is) Words hurt, but lunchboxes hurt more.
    *Do not steal the tiny plastic bears and take them home, even though my dollhouse doll really did need a teddy bear.
    *The “Inflatable Letter People”-“Mr. B”, “Mrs. S”, “Mr. K”, etc., are not really real people. They were just inflatable shapes of letters with cartoon faces on them. They did not knock on the door of your classroom, you can’t hold conversations with them and you can’t feed them flaming hot tomato soup. Also, don’t hug them really, really tight because hugging them makes them deflate, it is possible to love too much.
    *Do not strip down to your underwear in public places, it scares people.

    Yeah, these rules still hold true today. Thank you Kindergarten!

  3. Arundhati says:

    The one good thing that we learn in kindergarten that should be mandatory in all offices: The Afternoon Nap. Everybody should just drop whatever they’re doing and hit Snooze. Of course most people do it anyway at work, but why not make it official, instead of people pretending to read email and nodding off?

    • Makya McBee says:

      Just Visiting – I recognize your hand raise…go ahead and ask your question.

      Heather – Yes, these are all good and useful rules, but I am very much hoping that these do not represent all that you need to know…

      Arundhati – Nap time, eh? Not a bad idea. I’ll see what I can do about that….right after I take this nap…

      • heathersnyder1 says:

        Hahaha! No, they definitely don’t represent all that I need to know, and the underwear rule has kept me out of trouble. Well, except for my wardrobe malfunction moment at an elaborate party. It was caught on camera, posted to facebook, photo secretly made it into the photo album, and also to on an online photo site. Luckily I only turn 3 shades of red everytime someone brings out that photo. Good times, good times. And, the blame can be pinned entirely on the dress being vintage and the lace wasn’t reinforced, I wasn’t stripping!

  4. Laura4NYC says:

    I never knew the chocolate ma….errr H.B. Reese was a real guy!!! Thanks for sharing common knowledge!

    And wow, breathtaking elaboration on all the things you must have not learned in kindergarden… *smirk* And keeping your hands to yourself, well, that might have been in the way of procreation…

    • Makya McBee says:

      Look, I don’t know what it’s like over in Europe, where you take your chocolates much more seriously…but it’s a mistake to think that anything is common knowledge here in the states. I’d never heard of H.B. Reese before I wrote that post…it’s not like he’s a national hero (although I suppose he should be).

  5. Outlier Babe says:

    Lost it in wild guffaws when I saw your snarky “bowtie” caption. But cut the man some slack–do you know how IBM controls the souls and outward dress of its employees? Everyone who escapes their corporate snares later shows evidence of having snapped, sartorially speaking.

    Your 81% writing effort continues to pay off for your readers–could that mean we’re only 40.5% dullards?

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