• Jennifer Strube

Universal Glasses


“Who is this man and why is he famous?”


Flocks of hands shoot up all around the room. Wow, these children are so hip, I think. I pick my favorite student, not that teacher’s have favorites, to impress me with their Beatles knowledge. After all, this is a music class.


“That’s Harry Potter! He’s my favorite.”


I glance up at John, wearing his peace dove on his shoulder and peer down at the children, who are already madly discussing their favorite part of the Sorcerer’s Stone.


“Does anyone disagree?” I ask, but my question cannot be heard above the flutter of glory about Hogwarts. These eight year olds could care less about John when there are serious debates to be had about Nymphadora Tonks.


Some things in China are ultra progressive. Like bike ponchos. Other luxuries have yet to seep their way into the post-post modern era. Like music. A few Katy Perry and Coldplay melodies have shimmied their presence past the crimson stage curtain, but for the most part, my students wine and dine on 1989 hits, such as Smooth Criminal and We are the World. I wish I was joking, but I took of the top ten songs of my 3rd and 4th grade classes. Below you will find them, in no apparent order:


Beat It

Smooth Criminal

Owner of a Lonely Heart

Heal the World

We are the World

The ET Soundtrack

Phantom of the Opera

Our Song by Elton John

Its my Life by good old Bon J

To combat the lack of musical fortitude, I brought John to school today for show and tell. After all, it was international peace day and the children needed to know that they too could give peace a chance. I passed out bongos and congo drums, tamborines and triangles, and together we made our own hippie circle — one American teacher and a room full of shiny Asian children. We banged and we sang along with John, not to be confused with Harry. That’s all we were saying. Give peace a chance. Just when I was about to underestimate my students’ exposure to good tunage, one girl raised her hand.


“Teacher, I know why this singer chose this rhythm. This song makes you want to play and clap along. And if you clap along, your hands are full and then you don’t have room to hold a weapon.”


From the hands of babes, comes lyrical poetry. And this magic is way bigger than any sorcerer’s wand can muster, even if Harry did steal John’s glasses trend. The Beatles may not have made it to their ipods, but peace surely did. And Peace is the smoothest criminal of all.



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