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Back to School: Explorers and Adventurers Wanted!
By: Storyteller Joe Paris

To students of all ages about to go back to school or start schooling or learning of one kind or another: you’re in the midst of one of the most exciting times for storytelling in your life right now.

It’s a time filled with unlimited opportunity for you to be storytelling explorers and adventurers, if you will only summon your natural curiosity, show enthusiasm, act with respect, and take responsibility in your quest for gathering and then sharing (through storytelling) knowledge.

The treasures you can find while on this adventure called "education" are many and varied, but the greatest prizes are what you discover about yourself and what you share with others.

Because I have spent lots of time in schools, both as a student and as a teacher, I have formed my own theory on how to get the most out of this experience we call “education,” and storytelling is a central part of it!

Here’s what you need:

• Curiosity. This is the cornerstone of all quality education. Without curiosity, we are mere place-holders, whiling away the time, waiting to die.

With curiosity, all worlds open up to us for exploration and high adventure. We are all born with this wonderful trait. Just watch a child. The trick is not letting curiosity slip into idle curiosity.

The difference is crucial, and the true student will follow those feelings of wonder - such as “I wonder why airplanes fly?” - with a willingness to work at solving the why.

In the example used, studying the principles of aerodynamics as applied to flight is the response of a true student. And then sharing what you’ve learned through storytelling brings the process full circle by inspiring curiosity in others!

Letting the process stop (rather than start) with that curious question is the mark of a dilettante, someone whose claim of being a student is as shallow as their understanding of what the word "student" really means.

Curiosity can be taught, and once unleashed, is heuristic in nature: It motivates and leads to other learning experiences. Curiosity only kills stupid or lazy cats, not lively, smart ones who know that once curiosity is piqued, you get an urge to peek, then learning peaks.

• Respect. True students feel respect for themselves, their teachers, their classmates, and the subjects studied, and make the effort to consistently show it.

Respect is born out of humility and the resulting realization that we all have much to learn, so let’s apply ourselves toward that end. Then, let’s share it through storytelling.

Respect for your subject of study comes when you accurately determine its power and importance and then give it the time and effort necessary to understand it.

A lack of respect means you spend little time or effort trying to master the subject and shows you do not even realize how powerful and important education is.

Lack of respect is what really kills you and a lot of other “cats,” not curiosity.

Basic manners are a good barometer of respect. If a student is polite, considerate of others, and optimistic, that indicates the presence of respect.

A lack of respect is contagious, because it’s easier to be negative and selfish, and pathogens are lazy, always following the path of least resistance (ask any doctor).

Successful storytelling explorers and adventurers respect their environment (the classroom and school), their guides (the teachers), their subjects, their fellow explorers (classmates), but most of all themselves.

• Responsibility. You are ultimately the only one responsible for your education and storytelling.

You will benefit from it. You will suffer for the lack of it. You will always wish you had more of it. Ask anyone now out of school.

No teacher, no parent, no friend, no subject can truly be held responsible for you not getting the most out of your education. Only you.

A fierce determination deep in your heart and mind and soul will ultimately make the difference for you as you explore and discover, invent and create, stumble and recover your way, along this great adventure in life called education.

Take the responsibility.

• Knowledge. That’s what those other three of curiosity, respect, and responsibility can add up to, if applied with the zeal and discipline of an explorer. But knowledge is just the start.

Applying knowledge with wisdom is the real goal of education and in many cases, the storytelling that accompanies it.

When stumped by a particularly difficult challenge this year, just ask yourself: “What would an ‘A’ student do in these circumstances?”

If you don’t know that answer, ask a teacher. They’re hired to be good guides. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

My Uncle Mose Bernard - our family\’s greatest storyteller and cheerleader for getting more education - once told me that it takes 5,000 mistakes to become an educated storyteller. Get busy.

(c) 2003 NewsSouth and Storyteller Joe Paris. Used with permission of the author with a nod of thanks to Sean Buvala and the fine folks at, who educate hundreds of people every year in the fine art of storytelling.

Author Information:
Name: Storyteller Joe Paris
The contents expressed in any article on are solely the opinion of author.

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