Book Review: All I Really Need to Know… (1988)

… I Learned in Kindergarten
Robert Fulghum

1988, Ivy Books, 196 pages

FulghumThe inspiration for reading this book comes from a reference at the Free State Project 2007 Winter Porcupine Festival.  John Stossel of ABC 20/20 “skewerer of conventional knowledge” fame addressed us at the banquet with a message that simplicity favors liberty.  He paraphrased Fulghum’s charming little book as follows:

1) Don’t hit people
2) Don’t steal people’s stuff
3) Keep your promises

A set of premises totally in keeping with the Sacred Nonaggression Principle (SNaP) and, equally important, a prescription for living well. The author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum, at least has lived widely: having been a ranch hand, a folksinger, IBM salesman, professional artist, parish minister, bartender (I almost wrote ‘parish bartender’ :-)), teacher of drawing and painting, and father.  At least for the time when the book was published in 1988 he lived with his wife on a houseboat in Seattle.

So the author is what one might call a free spirit.  When asked, “What do you do?” he usually replies that he is a philosopher, and then explains what he likes to do is think a lot about ordinary things then express what he thinks by writing or speaking or painting, whichever seems appropriate.  In All I Really Need to Know we have a series of short essays about “ordinary things”… like kindergarten, eensy-weensy spiders, South Pacific islanders who yell at trees, raccoons making whoopy in the crawlspace, buying deerskin gloves in San Saba, Texas, coloring with Crayola crayons, and other rituals of “deep-rooty places.” Continue reading