Opinion: “Pushing the Edge” by Glenn Mangurian; Are You Smarter Than a Kindergartner?

Glenn Mangurian

"Pushing the Edge" by Glenn Mangurian is the newest regular column in the Hingham Anchor. You can learn more about the author below.  

Friday, September 25, 2020, submitted by

Remember the television game show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? When watching the show, I usually scored higher than the contestants, but I rarely knew as much as the children. That got me wondering, "Am I as smart as a kindergartner?"

Years ago, I read Robert Fulghum’s popular book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Recently, I found it tucked away on my bookshelf, dusted it off, and reread it. In today's chaotic, challenging world, his points resonated even more deeply with me than before. I looked at a few of the book’s themes to see if, as adults, we still practice what we were taught.  

  • Share everything.

As children, we were constantly being reminded to share. As adults, we like to accumulate “toys” just as children do, but we can be even more possessive of them. We have all heard someone say, “These are mine. Go get your own,” “I worked hard for my things. You can’t have them,” or even, “Mine is bigger and better than yours.” If we were more willing to share, though, we might be surprised by how much we are offered in return.  

  • Play fair.

Do you remember when recess was all about playing? There was no scoreboard then; it was just about having fun. As we got older, many of us became so obsessed with winning we might even cheat or put the other person down to come out on top. Playing fair means playing by the rules, respecting others, and enjoying the milk and cookies at the end of the day. As adults, playing fair adds another dimension to our happiness because we know our success is achieved honorably.  

  • Clean up your own mess.

We learned in kindergarten that messes are part of life. We were taught to care for our space and not to point fingers. We learned that acknowledging accidents and cleaning up the messes we made were correct ways to handle our mistakes. As adults, many of us are too eager to blame someone else when things go wrong, when we should be taking responsibility to fix what we can. 

  • Say you’re sorry when you've hurt someone.

Most of us learned “please” and “thank you” at an early age. We learned that respecting other people’s feelings is of paramount importance. But the words “I’m sorry” seem to get harder and harder to say as we grow older. Remember, it’s not always about how we feel or what we mean, but how the other person feels because of our actions. Impact is more important than intent—apologizing when we’ve caused pain can go a long way toward mending relationships. 

  • When you go out into traffic, hold hands and stick together.

How many times have we seen boys and girls out on a field trip, holding hands? Children hold hands to stay safe. If adults could learn to see the common elements that bind different people together, and what we could gain from broad, trust-based teamwork, we would be less afraid of holding hands and more inclined to stick together.  

It seems in many ways the kindergartners have a lot to teach us. 

Pushing Your Thinking 

  • Which of these themes is the most relevant for you today? How can you put it into practice? 
  • What new possibilities could your practice create in your relationships, in your career, or for your overall happiness? 
  • How can we model these behaviors for children so they continue the practices they learn in kindergarten? 


Glenn Mangurian has been a resident of Hingham for 35 years. He is a retired business leader with more than four decades of experience driving innovation and results with his clients. Glenn remains active with his writing, speaking, family, and community.

In May 2001, Glenn suffered an injury to his spinal cord, resulting in the paralysis of his lower body. Drawing on his personal experience, he authored an article titled “Realizing What You’re Made Of,” which was published in March 2007 in the Harvard Business Review. In May 2017 he published his first book, Pushing the Edge of Thought, Possibility and Action – Questions and Insights from Everyday Life.

Glenn Mangurian can be reached at: glenn@glennmangurian.com

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