2017-11-08 / Editorial

ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN

Michael N. Searles

In 1986 Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten was published and inspired millions of readers with its insightfully simple wisdom. The book was composed of a series of short essays that emphasized rules children learned in kindergarten classrooms. These principles included sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living a balanced life of work, play and learning. The book gave rise to poems, quotes, literature prompts, and motivational posters. Many people believe the world is better because of the ideas promoted in the book. Human kindness and respect, key elements of the book, inspired a standard for evaluating the behavior not only of children but adults as well.

We have come to accept certain behavior as the norm. We believe it is appropriate to hold open a door for the person walking close behind us, to assist someone carrying a heavy load, and to provide an empty grocery cart to someone in need of one. These are simple gestures that suggest we live in community and we appreciate small acts of courtesy. When people act outside these common principles, we wonder if they were raised by wolves. While there are those who act contrary to the rules of acceptable behavior, we expect appropriate behavior from responsible citizens. Since many of us learned simple lessons of kindness and respect in kindergarten, it raises a question: What did our current President learn in kindergarten? First, Donald J. Trump attended kindergarten at the private Kew- Forest School in Forest Hills, Queens New York. His father, Frederick Trump, a wealthy real estate developer, served on the governing board of the school. While Donald Trump often says he was a top student in the schools he attended, apparently he did not do well in his elementary school. It has been reported his poor behavior led to his departure from Kew-Forest School and his enrollment in the New York Military Academy at the age of 13. Failure to learn key lessons in kindergarten may be the reason that his behavior repeatedly has been labeled unprecedented during his short tenure in the presidency. The President’s lack of historical knowledge and understanding has been mind boggling. His references to Frederick Douglass as if he were still alive. His asking a Women’s Empowerment Panel if they ever heard of Susan B. Anthony. The insults flowing from his mouth and twitter fingers without any thought as to their reception have become every day occurrences. He sent an image of himself eating a taco bowl in his office with the caption “I love Hispanics.” He lacks intellectual curiosity, has a short attention span, possesses insufficient self-control and exhibits the absence of a moral compass. These shortcomings have mystified and perplexed both friends and foes alike. Yet, the warning signs were clear. We saw the flashing red lights in his words and actions, but some of us would not read the writing on the wall. It was there in his disrespect for women, denigration of Mexicans and banning Muslims from entering the country. Many believed there was no way for Trump to be elected and therefore slept in on Election Day. Some had the vague hope that his business acumen would do what others had failed to do – bring back good paying jobs. Many Americans abandoned the notion that the presidency required preparation, practice, and propriety. They clung to an unreasonable notion that he alone could bring back coal jobs, make “Merry Christmas” the official Yuletide greeting and return America to its true inheritors. By all reasonable standards, there should be less than 5% of Americans who support the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Yet, President Trump’s overall approval is 36%. His approval among Republicans is at 72%, which suggests it matters not how illequipped by temperament and experience he is for the office, he remains a true champion for as many as 18,000,000 Americans. This is the sad and tragic situation of our nation.

Return to top