Friday, February 11, 2011

All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten

I was reading a book by Robert Fulghum tittled All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten and I must say it's quite refreshing. He says most of what he really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be he learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School.

These are things he says he 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 balance 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
Be aware of wonder.

This got me thinking about what I learned in nursery school (i didn't go to kindergarten). This was July 1988 and I don’t have much memories of this. I was enrolled to a nursery school that had two streams. One class was the bright kids; those who were in their second year, and the foolish ones, those who were in their first year. Having joined the school midyear, I knew nothing. Again, here everyone was speaking vernacular and I was a boy from the city.

We used to do songs more than read. I used to love break time where boy and girls would sing together without the feeling that this is a girl or this is a boy. I remember girls would sing a song that ended with them lifting their dress to show us their underpants and we would all giggle. The boys would look for dung beetles. We would urinated inside their holes and beetles would come up and we would have them as pets. Some beetles had horns and if you had one like that, you were the day's hero. We would hunt locusts and eat gum from the gum tree

I learnt so many songs that still linger in my mind to this day. Being in school was great. We would have our exercise books cut into two and the pencil cut into small pieces. My pencil would fit in a matchbox which was my pencil case. I had a big knit bag and some days I would get home and realize I have lost the book and the pencil. But since our teacher followed the same route she would collect the book on the way and bring it home.

Alternatively the book would be collected by a villager and they would bring it home. Some of the memories are the tourist headed to mountain lodge. They would give us sweets, take us photos and such. But there was a scare that they steal kids and go with them to Europe and turn them into monkeys. And when they take your photo they add tails to it and go show the African monkey. And so we would run away every time we saw a tour van.

And class used to start at 9.00 am to end at noon. And we never used to wear uniform. I never used to like any reading that was not musical especially mathematics which was just counting. I remember this day our teacher was away and we had another teacher. I never used to know how to count and I would just gaze waiting for the first person to finish and we duck outside and play. My teacher never cared. But the new teacher was harsh.

This day she was there and when the first kid finished the sums, she took to the teacher and on marking she got everything. I closed my booklet and started walking out now that I had someone to play with. Our new teacher couldn’t understand. She denied me to go out and demanded I do my sums and get them right before I go out. You can guess what happened. Everyone did their sum and went out to play. I was left alone in class and the teacher whose desk was near the door sworn I was not going anywhere until I finish.

The sound of other kids playing outside made me want to die. I couldn’t believe I was missing break. I tried guessing the answers to the sums, only to use my saliva-wetted finger to try erase and in turn dirtied and torn the book. I wanted to kill the teacher. I just didn’t know how. So, I gathered momentum and found my way out through the window. She was not amused.

She came after me and when she got me she pinched my cheeks I bled. The next day, my mother brought me to school and gave her a piece of her mind. My mum didn’t care if I can’t get anything in class, so longer no one beats me and I am allowed to play. That was enough learning.

What did I learn in nursery school? Would I say that this is all I need to learn? I am not sure, but this is what I would say I learned.

  1. You can turn everything into a musical or at least rhythmical.
  2. If you are not getting it, join them for play after they are done, and celebrate life.
  3. No one should stop you from doing what makes you happy even if they think it’s nonsense
  4. Networking is key, join a play group. you can never do life alone.
  5. Life should be fun and free, the rest comes as you go by.


  1. My dear, I thot the story was funny when told, but when written its even funnier. Sth like wanting to run away to play before finishing the assignment is still on.

    Nice read.


  2. Hey :-)

    How dare she deny me break and that was the essence of going to school?