In September the vision of small bodies trundling off to school with backpacks almost as big as they are warm the heart and bring a rush of memory. When I was a kid we didn’t have backpacks. We had to carry heavy loads of books, papers and lunch bags in our arms (uphill both ways through snow and sleet). Ah those were the days.

It is just those memories that turn my mind to an essay in a book by Robert Fulhum published by Ballantine books that is titled All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things.

The title says it all. In his essay Fulham lists things that were taught to us at that tender age. In this learning adventure he calls Deep Kindergarten, Fulham’s list includes the Golden Rule, love, basic sanitation, ecology, politics, equality and sane living; all things that we might take and apply to our family life, our work, our government and our world. Heady advice for the kindergarten crowd. Here are a few of my favorites:

Share Everything

 If there are twenty kids and three balls, two sandboxes, two goldfish, one hamster, four sets of blocks and one bathroom, to be fair, we share. And for us? How will society survive without equitable distribution of our earth’s resources, without reducing and reusing to keep our planet cool?

Don’t Hit People, Play Fair.

To my regret, I recall bedlam at the dinner table as I took a swing at our twelve-year-old when he shoved a pea up his brother’s nose. His karate lessons helped him to deftly block the blow. His siblings (minus the one with the pea) thought it hilarious. Violence won’t make a better society. I knew it, I just didn’t do it. Seems  I needed a refresher course.

Clean Up Your Own Mess.

My gosh imagine what the world would be like if every country, every city and town, every industry and every person did that.


Our children’s kindergarten teacher thought it would be great if she brought a dozen freshly laid eggs and hatched them in the classroom. They hatched and the little fuzzy critters were a source of delight for the children. What a thrill, what a wonder to see life happen right before their eyes. Two weeks later the teacher was desperately looking for a farmer to take them. This entailed explaining the cycle of chick – to – chicken – to fryer.

The chicks, the hamster in the Corner, the goldfish and the bean that was sprouted in the Styrofoam cup all die. So do we. There is life, and there is death. It is a span as short as a chicken or as long as an old grandparent. It is, as they say, what makes life so special. The idea is planted when the bean was.

Hold hands when you cross the street.

When we venture onward from kindergarten, it is important in this world to hold hands. To hold them with loved ones, and with unloved ones in our boarders and beyond.

Deep Kindergarten is deep within us. We have that knowledge, that anchor of right and wrong deep within. Somehow as we age, the hurry and the blurry of life seems to set us adrift. Perhaps if we turn our minds back to our tender beginnings, we might recall what in life are really simple choices.

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