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"Francis the Clown" Teaches the Pledge of Nonviolence
For Grades 3-8
For high school and college students and adults,
generally presents the School & Classroom Pledge of Nonviolence in several
groups according to grade levels (primary, middle, and upper grades). With the
first group of students (the oldest group), Dr. McGinnis explains the evolution
of the real Francis of Assisi from party-boy to peacemaker as he becomes
"Francis the Clown" with the help of the students who make up his face. Then he
teaches the seven components of the Pledge with songs, skits and sign language
as a silent clown. The first assembly takes about 75 minutes; the second one
about 50 minutes. But the timing can be adjusted as needed.
1. "Respect Self and Others." Francis uses songs from the TEACHING PEACE
CD ("I Think You’re Wonderful" for middle grades and "See Me Beautiful" for
upper grades) to encourage students and staff to replace "put-downs" with
affirmations. He also teaches the "signs" for a number of affirmation words.
2. "Communicate Better." Francis focuses on how to express anger in
positive ways, using the song "Use a Word" for middle grades, and asks students
and staff how they have learned to express their anger in positive ways.
Francis uses humor to demonstrate
the need for good listening.
4. "Forgive." Francis invites the audience to give reasons for
forgiving and mimes a couple of his own.
5. "Respect Nature." Francis performs a short skit on how not to respect
the earth and uses his earth ball for apologizing to "Mother Earth" and invites
others to do the same.
6. "Play Creatively." In addition to his general playfulness, Francis
uses his recorder to illustrate the importance of music as a form of creative
7. "Be Courageous." Francis uses the courageous example of Dr. King to
help students identify what it means to be a courageous peacemaker. Then he
comes out of his "clown" persona to explain to the audience something of his own
journey as a peacemaker and the significance of their adopting the Pledge of
Nonviolence as a way of being peacemakers.
For younger children,
Francis becomes a baker who loves "PEACE SOUP" and enlists the help of many of
the children in adding each of the ingredients into his big pot. Each
ingredient is identified as a word or phrase on the side of a can which the
student helpers pour into the pot. These ingredients are based on the seven
components of the Pledge of Nonviolence. This assembly takes about 30 minutes,
but can be adjusted as needed.
1. "Respect Self and Others." The key ingredients are "smiles," "hugs,"
and "kind words." With "kind words" Francis uses the "I Think You’re Wonderful"
song and teaches the "signs" for four kind words.
2. "Communicate Better." The key ingredient is "talk it out" which
Francis illustrates with the song "Use a Word." He also teaches a chant in
pantomime – "Hands for helping, not for hurting. Face for smiling, not for
frowning. Arms for hugging, not for shooting. Feet for dancing, not for
The key ingredient
reads "listen carefully."
4. "Forgive." The key ingredients are "say I’m sorry" and "forgive."
If time permits, Francis invites the audience to give reasons for
5. "Respect Nature." The key ingredients are "recycle" and "pick up
litter." Francis performs a short skit on how not to respect the earth and uses
his earth ball for apologizing to "Mother Earth" and invites others to do the
6. "Play Creatively." The key ingredients are "play together" and
7. "Be Courageous." The Key ingredients are "help" and "stop fights."
Francis uses the courageous example of Dr. King to help students identify what
it means to be a courageous peacemaker.
Conclusion. After a student helper stirs the "peace soup," Francis
enlists six students to take some of the "peace soup" and face the audience.
Each has a small sign with a word which they display one at a time until it
reads: "Blessed are the peace soup makers."
For religious settings, Francis also plays and sings the "Peace Prayer" of
Francis of Assisi.
It is generally helpful to have a 30-60 minute meeting with the
faculty after the assembly/ies to discuss ways for them to build on this
experience. Dr. McGinnis brings a variety of resources for teachers to use in
putting the Pledge into practice in their own lives as well as teaching it to
"Francis the Clown" Models the Pledge
"Respect Self and Others."
The hearts on his face symbolize the need to respect
others with our smiles. The five colors on his face reflect the five different
skin tones that characterize the whole race, illustrating the need to respect
the diversity of the human family. His worker’s coveralls represent the dignity
of people who labor with their hands and his solidarity with the poor of the
2. "Communicate Better." His "peace" flowers in four languages
illustrates the need to find peaceful ways of resolving our conflicts, whether
those conflicts are interpersonal or international, and the importance of
learning different languages.
3. "Listen Carefully." His use of sign language requires students to
stay focused more closely on him and promotes more careful listening by paying
closer attention to people who are speaking to you.
His yellow wig
represents the sun, his blue shirt the blue sky, his suspenders the rainbows,
his brown pant pockets the soil, the green cloth emerging from the soil the
stems of flowers, which are boldly attached to his pants.
"Play Creatively." The clown is playful by nature and reinforces the need
for more playfulness. Francis uses a recorder to illustrate the importance of
music as a form of creative play.
6. "Be Courageous."
Francis’ shoes -- one black and the other white -- proclaim the need for
light-skinned people and dark-skinned people to live together, work together,
study together, worship together, and challenge the violence of racism
together. His heart has symbols of people he identifies with, even if others
put them down -- people with HIV/AIDS, people in prison, lesbian and gay
people. His button of Dr. King shows how important Dr. King’s witness of
compassion and courage has been for him.
For more information or scheduling,
contact Dr. Jim McGinnis at 1-314-918-2630