‘All I Really Need to Know’ about author (and Baylor alum) Robert Fulghum
If you were around in the late 1980s and early 1990s, you probably remember seeing posters like the one pictured above reminding each of us that “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.”
“Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people,” the title essay reads. “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.” The list goes on, a litany of simple actions we would all do well to remember — all from the mind of Baylor graduate Robert Fulghum.
The first version of what would become All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten was a 300-page credo that Fulghum, BA ’58, wrote as a young minister. He eventually whittled it down into a column for his church newsletter, which found life far beyond his small Seattle congregation — eventually being shared by such diverse voices as national radio commentator Paul Harvey, singer-activist Pete Seeger, Dear Abby and Reader’s Digest.
Fulghum made it the basis for his first book in 1989; today, more than 17 million copies have been printed, to say nothing of the number of classroom posters and other variations that have been shared over the years.
If Fulghum really did learn all those things in kindergarten, then he did so right here in Waco, where he was born on June 4, 1937. After beginning college at Colorado, he returned home to Waco and Baylor after his father fell ill. He majored in history and philosophy at Baylor, and from a young age showed a zest for work in eclectic fields. His path to becoming a bestselling author included stints as a ditch-digger, paperboy, ranch hand, singing cowboy, divinity student, minister, teacher, painter, sculptor, and musician, all of which provided life lessons to draw upon in the book.
After excerpts of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” proved popular in various media outlets, Fulghum’s book by the same name launched his career as an author. He has since followed it up with nine other bestselling books, two of which were adapted for television and stage.
Sic ’em, Robert Fulghum!