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"Francis the Clown" Teaches the Pledge of Nonviolence

For Grades 3-8 (See K-2 below)

For high school and college students and adults, click here.


Introduction. "
Francis" 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.

3.  "Listen Carefully." 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 play.

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 Grades K-2

   

 

Introduction. 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 kicking."

3"Listen Carefully." 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 forgiving.

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 same.

6.  "Play Creatively."   The key ingredients are "play together" and "share."

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.

Faculty Session

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 their students.

How "Francis the Clown" Models the Pledge

1"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 earth.

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.

4"Respect Nature." 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.

5"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 or jimppjn@aol.com