Where Did All the Mermaids Go?

Reflecting on Robert Fulghum's Challenge to Celebrate Kids' Confidence

Thoughtful. Insightful. Inspirational.

These are the characteristics of today’s opening session with Robert Fulghum, author of Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. NAESP outdid itself this year with such a well-orchestrated event.

First, you know every person in that room instantly thought of their own kindergarten teacher when NAESP President Nancy Flatt Meador brought her two kindergarten teachers to the stage. It truly was a gift to us all! I was moved to tears (if you ask my wife, it’s an easy task), but nonetheless, Nancy’s compassion and passion for education was so evident! Bravo!

Then, you bring in Robert Fulghum (@robertlfulghum). I'm surprised there weren't boxes of Kleenex being passed row by row. It is rare for a speaker to allow you to see into his heart the way Fulghum did. His wit and humor, coupled with his brevity, were powerful. It is evident that he views the world in a way that many of us would be fortunate to emulate.

His story of “the snowflake” inspired me to remember that we all need to take the time to build our children’s creativity and celebrate their uniqueness. In fact, I opened my Outlook calendar and immediately scheduled a schoolwide “Build a Snowflake Day” for my school on December 1. Every person (staff included) is going to discover their strengths and celebrate their unique gifts by creating their own snowflake.

Fulghum’s presentation this morning stirred so many emotions for me, and brought back so many memories. As he shared the stories about the mermaid and Cinderella’s pig, I thought of my four-year-old son, Carson. Carson wants to be a superhero. His dream is built on confidence and determination. I hope I haven’t squelched that dream a little at some point with my adult-minded thinking. I plan to celebrate Carson’s dream the moment I return from this conference.

But this thought made me wonder about all children. Where does the confidence and determination go when a person grows from being a childhood mermaid or superhero into an adult? How might we, as educators, celebrate our children’s confidence and build it? After all, if we all viewed the world like Fulghum and celebrated the confidence it takes to dream of being a mermaid, the world would be a better place.

Adam Drummond

Drummond is blogging from the 2014 Annual Conference in Nashville. Read his other posts, and see updates from Nashville, on 2014 Conference News.

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