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“This is Serious” (And Other Insights from Student Storytellers)

By Mike Bonifer 2 years ago
Home  /  Game  /  “This is Serious” (And Other Insights from Student Storytellers)

In a speech to high school counselors at a conference at Wheelock College in Boston this week, bigSTORY co-founder Jeremi Karnell posed this provocative question:

How much meaning can we liberate from a student’s narrative?

What he said in response:

Collaboration is important. Your students are natural collaborators. They’ve grown up in a networked world. They were born connected. It’s when they tell stories together, when their individual narratives connect with one another, that new meaning and artifacts emerge.

Play is important. Your students don’t believe in how-to manuals. They learn by playing. The opportunity we have as educators is designing the kinds of learning games this generation of learners wants to play.

Listen. The real meaning of a student’s story is hidden. You can’t talk it out of wherever it’s hidden. You have to listen it out.

This is serious. Their stories, and what they mean, have serious consequences. Take them seriously. The next two or four years cannot be a vacation from life, knowing there’s a job waiting at the end of it. For most students, those days are over.

Celebrate change. What is change but difference over time? Differences are what these students do. They celebrate their differences. As educators, we can join the celebration by celebrating, not only the differences from one student’s story to the next, but also the differences we see in this generation as they come into their own.

Jeremi’s audience happened to be high school counselors. The same observations can apply to all of us. They’re great reminders. Serious play in service of the new and emerging stories is where it’s at. Where it’s always been. No generation is more adept at seeing that as an opportunity like the next generation to enter the workforce. Prepared organizations will prosper.

  Game, Identity, Opportunity, Story Organization
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 Mike Bonifer

  (57 articles)

Mike Bonifer is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer for bigSTORY, a company of strategists & practitioners who are first in the world to utilize quantum storytelling, an emerging organizational science that accounts for how stories are created, live in networks, and influence behaviors. Throughout his professional life, Bonifer has been in the forefront of emerging storytelling practices and technologies. As the publicist on Tron, the author of The Art of Tron, and the writer and producer of Computers are People, Too, he explained computer-generated imagery to the analog world. As a founding producer of The Disney Channel, he pioneered the Walt Disney Company’s entrance into cable television with the legendary documentary series, Disney Family Album. As the producer of the award-winning website for Toy Story, he introduced movie fans around the world to Pixar’s extraordinary storytelling. He co-founded Network LIVE, which lives on as Control Room, producer of some of the biggest online music events in the world, including 2007’s Live Earth concerts for the environment, for which he served as Chief Storyteller. In 2007, he wrote and published GameChangers – Improvisation for Business in the Networked World, and, with Dr. Virginia Kuhn of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, co-founded GameChangers, a learning company that applied improvisation to business communication. His work with GameChangers dramatically improved the performances in units of companies such as Skype, Gap Inc. The Walt Disney Company, United Airlines Media, Gawker Media, NetApp and GE. He has conducted university workshops in Public Health, Entrepreneurship, Engineering, Sociology and Cinema; collaborated with Alan Alda on a workshop for the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC; explained quantum storytelling to physicists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; coached Ron “The Gangster Gardener” Finley on his famous TED Talk on urban gardening; and returned to his old hometown in Indiana, to tell stories about the legendary smalltown Hoosier baskeball team, his childhood heroes,The Ireland Spuds. He was the featured storyteller at the 2014 San Miguel International Storytelling Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He and his son, Alex, perform a two-person improv act called BonBon, the only father-son comedy improv act in the world (that they know of). In 2015, he will tour Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua on behalf of the Notre Dame Executive Education program. With bigSTORY, Bonifer and Jeremi Karnell have created a home for one of the most remarkable advances in storytelling of our lifetimes. A way of seeing the world through the lens of the stories we create together. A theory that accounts for the brilliant possibilities that await us when your story and my story become our story.