New York State Dignity Act
The Dignity Act is addressed in the beginning of all assemblies. Children are encouraged to sing into a microphone in front of their classmates throughout the show. Sometimes classmates will laugh, point, or ridicule a child when they are singing or acting. This becomes a teaching moment where students will learn to resist the temptation to make fun of another child.
Students not only learn to appreciate cultural diversity through music and literature, (Standard 4), they experience playing the parts of the characters in each of the songs during the show. Lee’s Anti-Bullying Be a Friend, Not a Bully Show supports the Dignity Act, and Black History and US Presidents Shows refer to a history of the pursuit of dignity in our country.
Lee explains how we all live with some sort of bullying, but we can choose to not spread it around! The very popular anti-bullying book Mean Jean, the Recess Queens, is used for this purpose. Lee incorporates an exercise in body language, and has the students experience “inviting and welcoming” body language opposed to “off-putting or unfriendly” body language.
Here is my favorite quote from Peter Yarrow, whose seminar I recently attended in St. Louis:
“The belief is that music will become an antibiotic to the kind of hostility and violence that kids are visiting on each other in a world filled with hatred and fear. The songs themselves are only part of the program; it’s the act of singing them together that really completes this process of connection. It only works when everyone participates. Something very special and almost magical happens in a room filled with people who are singing together.”