Adventure School

Mt. Fuji
this photo are available for download under a Creative Commons license
Retrieved from Flickr and born1945


“We are the stories we tell.” – Darren Kuropatwa

“The truth about stories is that’s all we are.” – Thomas King

The job I had before I got back into teaching elementary school was with a Japanese Company called FIA in a program called Adventure School.  It was personalized learning, connected learning and storytelling all built into an English language training and cultural program.  My boss, Shoichi Kaneko *, a jazz musician and Japanese businessman, was very interested in the ability of recent Japanese university graduates to take risks, be creative, try something new, make decisions for themselves, know and tell their story to others. He wanted the graduates to explore their story, their uniqueness, their interests and passions and find people to connect with and learn how to network in a cross-cultural situation.  This was all in order to stir in the listeners’ hearts an understanding and connection that would benefit both the storyteller and the listener.

Participants often thought it was an English training program, which it was and it wasn’t.  Japanese graduates, typically, have never been taught how to consider their own story, their own passions, their own ideas and be bold.  I think my boss thought this was a tragedy in Japan and might in fact have meant an economic and educational decline for Japan.  I’m not certain, but he wanted an infusion of creativity and some “jazzing up” of the prescriptive nature that is prevalent in Japanese culture.  He wanted people to connect not only to their own story but the stories of others.  This was essentially what I understood this complex program to have at it’s heart, real stories that connected people (even or especially across language borders).

How does this fit into what I’m learning and the students with whom I am currently working?  I’m wondering what the Canadian education system and I as a teacher in it can learn from Sancho (as we called him- Village Leader, his original business was called Chikyujinmura (Global Earthling is the direct translation but I think it means Person of the Global Village).  In addition to asking “what did you learn today and what did you contribute to the learning of others?”, maybe we can be asking “what is your story today and how did your story intersect with or impact someone else’s story today?”

Digital storytelling, as I learned a little bit more about in Darren Kuropatwa’s #etmooc archived session T2S2 – Digital Storytelling in K12  from Feb 8, 2013, might be able to help us get our students connecting to their own stories and creating artifacts that will help them tell it to others.  It may also help them share in the stories of others, to find connections that would otherwise not be available to them.  I’m hoping my interest in learning the stories of others and my interest in making digital artifacts with iMovie can assist my students in their journey to not only understand themselves and the world around them but to contribute to the stories of others, maybe even help someone else understand their own story a little bit better.

Some of you may know that I’m participating in Bryan Jackson’s Introduction to Guitar, as I talked about in this earlier post.  Maybe one way to connect my story to that of my former boss is to learn the song he wrote, “Kyo no Hi wa Sayonara“, on the guitar (this video is a contrabass and guitar duet) and include it as part of my story (maybe Stacia can help me with the Japanese!)  I think I just may contact my boss sometime soon and connect our stories again.

*(this page is in Japanese but Google Translate works well enough for you to learn a little bit about him and the Adventure School Program – which is explained toward the bottom of the page in an essay by Mr. Kaneko.  The translation calls it Warrior Training Abroad! Man, I wish I could read and understand Japanese.)