THE BLOG
09/08/2010 11:33 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When I Said "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," I Meant it Literally

I can tell from the look on your face that you think I'm just trying to come up with a corporate metaphor, ready-made for a cheap poster frame mounted in the hallway outside the bathroom, but I assure you, when I told you "everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten," I meant it quite literally.

Some of it is a "fundamental principles" thing. No yelling, that was a big one. Or sharing -- my program had a strong emphasis on sharing. Or finding ways to yell, refuse to share, or outright take whatever you want from whoever has it without anyone who is in charge finding out about it until the issue is too far in the past to truly determine fault -- that was one you couldn't miss at my alma mater. I'm proud to say I'm something of an expert in that last one.

But beyond the broad organizing principles underpinning my education, there were plenty of specifics that have helped me immeasurably throughout the rest of my life.

D'nealian writing, for example -- nothing more readable than D'nealian, particularly as executed by someone with my higher-kindergarten level of education.

The importance of adequate warning time when bathroom needs become pressing -- that's one that has come in handy I can't even tell you how many times.

How hard is too hard to hug your favorite hamster friend -- another thing I learned in those halcyon kindergarten days.

Okay, "learned" might be an overstatement for that last lesson. More like "was made aware of without fully executing myself."

Actually those last two lessons.

Even my fashion sense has been profoundly influenced by my years in kindergarten.

When I say "influenced," I mean "I am literally still wearing the things I wore in kindergarten." Learning the meaning of "influenced" wasn't part of the curriculum. Luckily my awesome dinosaur belly-shirts, short shorts, and ironic fireman hats seem much more intentional now that the 80's are in again.

"Ironic" and "intentional" are two more words that weren't in any of my educational reading material, in case that makes a difference.

It might be different if I had taken a different path through life, of course. I have no doubt that my educational background is more directly represented in my office, which specializes in knocking differently-shaped blocks securely into previously-cut block holders with the help of small wooden hammers, than it might be in, say, "supermanning," another career I was strongly considering at one point in my life.

It probably also helps that my kindergarten program had an optional minor in basic bookkeeping skills, as well as a certificate program in proper wiping techniques, both of which I took full advantage of during my time there.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that if my living arrangement didn't include laundry, meal preparation, and various other household duties my mother feels like handling for me, I wouldn't be nearly as vocal an advocate for early childhood education.

Or rather, I might be a more vocal advocate for something beyond early childhood education.

But my point remains the same -- wouldn't the world be a better place if we all just focused more on sharing, and cookies, and nap time? If we used our imagination instead of our higher-level language and math skills? If we sometimes cried so hard that we puked without warning?

I don't know what you mean by "rhetorical," but I was hoping for an answer -- none of the answers to those questions were ever on the curriculum. If I'm not around, leave a note in my cubby hole. Or just a series of scribbly lines -- I'll get the gist of it either way.

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