Many remember the New York Times bestseller, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. Over seven million copies were sold! Fulghum’s idea was simple but profound: the early lessons in school stay with us all our lives.
As we head into the fall and students of all ages head back to school, here’s the Beaches|Life version of “everything I know about life I learned first in school.”
Respect – School teaches to respect our teachers, to listen when we are being taught a lesson and engage in helpful dialogue. As adults, listening well is one of the most sought-after skills! In fact, those with good listening skills are much more likely to be promoted to a leadership position.
No one likes a bully – There’s lots of good talk these days about putting a stop to bullying in schools. But bullying and aggressive behaviour doesn’t end just because you’re an adult. When we treat our work colleagues, friends, and our family with respect, we build solid careers and relationships.
Failure is learning – Adults tend to cover up mistakes, blame someone else, or pretend that failure didn’t happen. But failure is how we learn, and according to some, it can be one of the best ways to learn. It’s far better to just face it as an opportunity to learn from one’s mistakes and learn how to move on.
Perfect doesn’t happen, and that’s okay – Similar to the above, students soon learn that few ever get “perfect” on a test, or straight A’s all the time. What matters most is that we keep trying, and we accept ourselves (and those around us) in spite of our imperfections!
It’s okay to ask for help – Remember holding up your hand in class for help? For some reason, when we “grow up” we think that we don’t need to ask for help any more. But asking for help is how we learn. It is also how we let each other know that we are vulnerable, and we need them.
Learning doesn’t have to be practical – We all learned things in school that we don’t use now, perhaps Latin, or astronomy, or calculus, or medieval history. But that’s what is so great about learning. It doesn’t have to be practical. It just needs to expand our minds and our hearts.
“Us” is often better than one – We all had to work in groups in school, and we didn’t always like it. But learning to work with others with different personalities and habits is what life is all about. Learning how to work together is one of the best lessons we can keep learning!
There’s always a fresh start – School always starts fresh in September with a new teacher, new books, and new topics. Adults often feel they are on a treadmill that never ends. But think like a student and give yourself permission once in a while to start fresh!
Curiosity is precious – Staying curious is one of the secrets to aging well and preventing brain degeneration. It starts when we are very young and keep asking our parents the same questions over and over again, (e.g. Why is the sky blue?). But too many lose their curiosity when they become adults. Stay curious, like a school kid, and your brain will thank you!