Fairy Tale: The Key of Knowledge
Okay, it's a bit hokey, I know, but I don't think it's fair for kids to get all the fairy tales. So here's one for all the online learners and adult students out there...
The Key of Knowledge
Once upon a time, in a land not so far away as you would think, a collection of students from every corner of the earth were enrolled in colleges and universities of all types and sizes. For reasons unbeknownst, it was the fate of these students to leave the schools, and embark into the world to seek their fortunes. Some of the students achieved great success, ruling vast empires or gaining fame and fortune. Others worked as farmhands and scullery maids, while still others started families that would go on to spawn many generations.
Whatever the fate of the students, whether happy or sad, rich or poor, lonely or surrounded with family and friends, one thing was missing. The Golden Diploma, which could only be found in the hallowed halls of learning, on the bank of a magical spring.
One by one the students made their way across the land. For some it was a long journey, across many seas and contininents. Some arrived by plane, some by train, some by car, and some even magically transported themselves through a glorious device known as The Internet.
When the students arrived at the Hall of Learning, they met many wise wizards and sages. The wizards told the students that they would bestow the golden diploma upon them only if they could successfully complete a series of obstacles. The students must find a vast array of keys, which were the Keys to Learning.
"There are many keys in the world" warned the wizards. "Do not waste your time searching for each and every one, as that would take many lifetimes. When you think you have enough, then return, and the final challenge will be undertaken." The wizards explained that when these keys were found, they would unlock a series of locks, but caution must be undertaken. Only certain keys would work, and the locks must be opened in the correct order, and order that was ever-changing so that no right combination would work more than once.
"But how will we know," pleaded the students," which combination out of the endless possibilites will open the door once we have found they keys?" The sages bowed their heads, as sages often do, and offered only this peice of advice: "You will know once you have found them."
The students were mystified, but set to work. They searched the great libraries, faced many tests and challenges, and learned to navigate the magical Internet, which greatly increased their speed and abilities. Some students searched for keys made of gold, some of silver, some of bronze or pewter or turquoise or emerald. They amassed many keys, but were still unsure. Could these be the right ones, or should they keep searching?
Eventually, an amazing thing happened. The keys began to speak. At first it was only a faint murmur, like the sound you hear when you press an ear to a seashell. Gradually, the murmur became a whisper, and the whisper became a song. "Go back," sang the keys, "You have searched long enough." One by one the students each suddenly turned in their tracks, and made their way back to the Hall of Learning.
To their surprise, upon returning, they found the hall in shambles. An evil sorcerer had overtaken it, and was holding the wise sages and wizards hostage. "Begone from here," bellowed the sorcerer. "The likes of you are not welcome here." The sorcerer swept through the hall, followed by his many minions, brandishing a great staff that spewed lightning and thunder. The students cowered, ready to turn tail and run. The sorcerer's minions, however, felt sorry for the students. As the students turned to leave the hall, one of them whispered, "The keys, use the keys."
Although the students feared all hope was be lost, they decided that if they were to be banished after all their searching, they might as well at least put up a brave fight. They pulled the keys from their pockets, and held them in outstretched hands. When they did so, a great beam of light poured forth from the keys. It was a wonder to behold, shimmering and glittering, like a thousand suns. The vast spectrum of the rainbow and all the colors of the universe danced before their eyes.
Just then, the sorcerer's staff burst into flames, and a great flash engulfed the hall. All present were blinded for a moment, from the brave band of poineering students, to the wise wizards and sages imprisoned in the far corner of the hall, and even the sorceror's minions (who were really compassionate elves from a neighboring kingdom enslaved by the evil sorceror). When the light receded, the sorceror was gone. "She's escaped!" cried a minion, "gone to work her evil ways elsewhere."
"No she hasn't," responded one observant student. "Look!' And there on the floor was a small kitten, happily frolicking in the dancing sunbeams that remained from the great flash of light. A great "Hurrah" ensued, with much frolicking and rejoicing. But one task remained, to unlock the doors that lead to the Golden Diploma.
The students headed up the great stairs in procession, where they were surpised to see a door for each student, no more, no less. The students, who had long wondered how they would face this last and greatest challenge, found that they knew instinctively the exact key that would open every lock. And one by one, they raced through the challenge, at times guided by a helpful voice from the keys "Pick me!" and at times by a nod from the wise wizards and sages, who really wanted the students to succeed despite the difficulty of the challenges they had set.
At long last, each student was down to but one lock. Yet this lock proved unopenable. None of the keys seemed to work. The students were at a loss. Had they really collected all the keys they needed save for one?
"Look again" said the wizards. "Perhaps you have missed one in your pockets." Though the students doubted this very much, they nonetheless put their trust in the wizards, for it seemed there was hardly another option. And as each checked his or her pockets once again, doubtfully and with some chagrin, one by one they all found a small key that hadn't been there before.
These keys were not encrusted with jewels, or fashioned of gold or silver or any other precious metal. They were small, rusty, and had the air of something that had been found perhaps at the bottom of a pool, or a pile of leaves. Yet they also had an air of familiarity. This air was something intangible, and varied for each student. For some, it was a sense of fulfillment, for some the smell of a library or the scent of the woods. Some remembered their grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers.
And as each lock sprung open, the question that was on lips of each student "where on earth has this key come from?" was instantly silenced. The students realized in a flash of wisdom that the last key had been there all along.
And so the final doors opened, and the great, gleaming Golden Diploma was unveiled, more glorious and splendid than they had ever imagined. And the feasting and merriment that followed lasted for forty fortnights, and was joined by the all the student's friends and loved ones. And with that, they lived happily ever after, or so the story goes.