The Maker Mindset

From the Story

Stories teach us all types of lessons. I often hear myself saying, “When I was your age . . .” to my daughter only to realize that my mom said the same thing to me. In our attempts to communicate information to others, we wrap the context inside a narrative. All cultures have some type of oral storytelling – tradition, heritage, culture – are all passed down from generation to generation. Whether we are found sitting around the dinner table or the campfire, the idea of telling, and listening to, a story is all around us. In modern times, we have – to some degree – forsaken the tradition of oral storytelling and exchanged that pastime for movie watching (deep sigh). Still, the idea is the same. The narrative gives us courage, wisdom, and moral lessons learned – and thus shared with others – to inspire, strengthen, and encourage a new generation of people.

The idea of a story has been around since the beginning of human history. However, starting a story is no easy task. Although we have some old reliable starts, many of us find it difficult to use them with our own storytelling. Can they be used to tell a good story? I guess that is a matter of opinion, but a few good starting points include:

“In the beginning . . .”

“Once upon a time . . .”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .”

“If you really want to hear about it . . .”

Where to Start?

“Focus the story to your listening audience”

I like all of these, but I find it difficult to use something that has already been used before. I want to begin my stories like I begin my #stem projects – from a clean slate. And even if it takes a few attempts to get the flow going in the right direction, I know that it is my own creation, my own idea. And I can live with that.

So, let me talk about the story, and where to start. Do I start a story from the beginning? Where, exactly, is the beginning? One book tells us that there was a beginning, because it clearly states: “In the beginning . . .” But since then, finding the begging of a story can be difficult. And once I find a beginning, what comes next? And after the beginning is establish, I have doubts. I worry if the story is even interesting. Who will listen? Who is going to read it? What will they think of the story once they are finished with it? In the end – who really cares?

These are all good questions. And all good questions should have good answers. But I have no good answers to these questions. The reason for this is: no story is for everyone! Stories come in all shapes and sizes – they are called genres. Some people like fantasy while others like mystery! Regardless of the flavor, a moral can be taught, and a lesson learned. You can tell the same type of story but gear it toward a listening audience. And this is important – focus the story to your listening audience!

Getting Started

“Just tell the story”

So, with that being as it is, we need to get started. In other words: just do it! That is, just tell the story. Write it down. Read it aloud to yourself. Read it to others. Listen to your own words. Digest them. Think about them. Change them if need be. Repeat! Add to the story. Give the story a place, add some people, provide motivation – a reason for the story to occur. And soon, the story takes shape. It grows, and gains power! Continue to add points of interest. With time, the story becomes its own entity!

I tell stories about dragons. And from these stories, I build #stem models and teach #stem concepts. Today is the start of a new beginning – a new story, a new project, a new build. So, let’s get started with the story.

A river ran through it at some point. But that time has long been forgotten. Today, the deep, barren land sat lonesome. From the hilltop, one could see the outlines of the once-powerful river. It stretched the length of the Great Valley, as far as the eye could see, until the sun settled upon its far-reaching point. Even now, looking west, the once-picturesque landscape was now little more than a barren, cold, and desolate place. It was a place, however, that a small band of adventurers needed to travel. For down there, near the edge of the river-trail, hid Smith’s Crack. It was the crack to the Abyss, some said. A place no one should go near. People travel there, not to be seen again. It is a place accursed with sorry, and fear. Yet, it was a place that the six wore-torn travels needed to go. For they, too, have lost a friend. And the last place of his whereabouts was Smith’s Crack. And taking one last look upon the path now traveled, the group pushed forward. Into the unknown.

The travelers reach Smith’s Crack about noon the following day. Marching forward, the fissure was barely noticeable but the group. A small hole in the ground. The shortest of the adventurers happened to see it as he turned his eyes away from the glaring sun. Stopping, he yelled to the others. Gathering around, they bent down, peering into the deep unknown. This was now the start of their next adventure.

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