Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Have you ever been inside so long that you’ve almost forgotten what it feels like to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin?  To hear the sound of birds singing?  To smell the dirty comforting scent of grass?  Well, that’s how I was last week during my switch from evening shift to day shift.

While sitting at the picnic table and drinking my coffee, I heard a plane fly over head and I instinctively looked up.  I watched as the plane flew out of sight and as it disappeared, I noticed that I had been just a wee bit tense.  I also noticed that a group of students had also stopped to watch the plane but they almost immediately went back to their previous activities ~ playing frisbee, eating, smoking cigarettes, being young co~ed students.

When I went back into the library, I told my co~worker about what had happened and she said she still looks up when she hears a plane too and part of her tenses up also…  As we continued talking, it dawned on me that the students who were outside playing don’t have the same frame of reference that my co~worker and I have.  They were little kids ten years ago, they’ve always lived with the threat of terrorism (I did too when I lived in Italy but it was different when we returned to the States)…

Tonight at my daughter’s choir concert, the director introduced the last song of the evening, Imagine by John Lennon, when he mentioned the phrase “frame of reference.”  When we hear Imagine, we think about the Vietnam War, the turbulence of the 60s and 70s and the idealism of youth. Even those of us who are not quite old enough to have experienced that turbulence directly.  This, the choral director stated is not what the kids of today “imagine” when they hear that song.  In order to put the song into perspective, he asked the kids to tell him what they imagine when they hear the song.  For those of you who think music and the arts are not an important component in education, I wish you had seen the video these kids put together ~ it encompassed history, social justice, politics, all the things that we want our children to learn and experience. One of the students stepped forward and said when they heard the song, they saw the hurt in Haiti, the death in Japan, the uprisings in the Middle East, the pain of bullying and they “imagine a world with none of that”.