“Who is John Lennon?” The 17-year-old student asked.
The words left me speechless. I immediately felt stunned and old.
With all that is going on globally and with Ukraine, I had to grab the moment in time. We need to teach teens what peace activism is. This is the point of the article you are about to read.
John Lennon- an Icon. Legend. Peace activist. Singer. Songwriter. Musician.
Vocalist. Guitarist. Rebel. Partner. Husband. Father. Collaborator. Artist.
Influencer. Provocateur. JOHN LENNON! I wanted to scream in the hallway.
I immediately pulled up this quote on the large smartboard at the front of the room…
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves, first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” — John Lennon
The senior high school students were then all asked to find one quote of this amazing individual to compile together as a unit within this English class. I grabbed a teachable moment. Oh, how I am absolutely passionate about critical thinking!
The John Lennon quotes were compiled and discussed as follows:
"The more real you get, the more unreal the world gets."
"Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted."
"A mistake is only an error, it becomes a mistake when you fail to correct it."
"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."
"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life."
"Trying to please everybody is impossible — if you did that, you’d end up in the middle with nobody liking you. You’ve just got to make the decision about what you think is your best, and do it."
"We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it."
"Everything is as important as everything else."
"If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliche that must have been left behind in the 60s, that’s a problem. Peace and love are eternal."
Not one student hesitated out of a group of 32. All were engaged, excited, and suggesting tunes as background music in the classroom. I do teach with music often as it encompasses all elements of English literature, grammar, poetry, and artistic expression. To me, it expresses all we are. As parents and teachers music grabs attention- no matter what the age. Use it. Peace through music and lyrics can still be upheld in our society. Let us teach our youth daily strong values and kindness to humanity. That was John Lennon. Now the students understand. It just took a little time to express the momentum of a generation.
Let us all remember.
Within that same vein, I was fortunate to meet with Little Stevie and The Disciples of Soul in Brooklyn. Music brings knowledge of history and connects to the youth of today. Stevie Van Zandt (guitarist extraordinaire- partner with Bruce Springsteen) has created an incredible resource for teachers. This curriculum guideline is a free service bringing music, fun, English, history, and laughter into the classroom. Over 100 lessons and plans from the master and his team.
Shout Out to Little Stevie and a special thank you for your contributions to all teachers and students.
Check it out: