The School Organization
( Originally Published 1922 )
I. The Place of the School Organization in Education
There is no better means for the practice of public speaking in all its forms than the school society. One finds nowadays students banded together for almost as many purposes as are their parents and older brothers and sisters in grown-up organizations in the community. Here the best work in debate, dramatics, and in general speaking is done. The conditions for good speaking are better than the recitation room. Class work paves the way; it shows how things ought to be done; but here students do. Natural situations much like those of outside life call forth direct, purposeful speaking; the student is taking some real lessons in citizenship.
Every student should spend much time in at least one school organization, and should take an active part in the business meetings. Any one taking a course in public speaking will naturally have a special interest in this work. For the guidance of those who have something to do with school debating clubs, class organizations, dramatic societies, or what not, a few suggestions from one who has had long practice in these things may seem in order.
II. Suggestions Based on Experience
1. Purpose — Never form a club just for the sake of organizing. Let your society meet a real need. Have a purpose that is worthwhile, and stick to it.
2. Members Admit as members only those who are alive to the importance of the work to be done. Carry on your roll as little "deadwood" as possible. Get rid of members who will not do anything.
3. Officers Choose officers for ability, not on the basis of popularity alone. Avoid political maneuvering. Select men and women of merit and of known "staying power." Pick your officers as Dr. Primrose did his wife for "qualities that wear." Inefficient, incapable, lazy officers will ruin any society in one term. Avoid the reelection of a man who has made good—he will likely rest on his oars, relying on his reputation to carry him through. Anyway, give the other fellow a chance. In like manner avoid electing one already loaded down with offices in other societies; divided interests seldom lead to efficiency.
4. A Program— Lay out a program of action and never let down until the last meeting is successfully carried on. If you have decided to put on a debate every two weeks, put it, on. Commit hara-kiri if you will, but don't kill all interest and all confidence by a blank in your schedule.
5. Conduct of Meetings — Conduct your meetings in a dignified manner. Anything else is disgusting. Adhere to strict parliamentary procedure in all business meetings. There is nothing finer than to know how to carry on a business meeting in a live, dignified, efficient manner. Have a regular order of business and adhere to it. Always begin on time.
6. The Follow-up Habit —You have asked Harry Jones to take a certain part in the program next month. He promises. Don't think for a moment your work is done. Follow him up; know that he is to appear. Enthusiasm for doing a hard piece of work soon dies out; and people who get things done soon learn that eternal prodding is the price of getting results.
7. Enthusiasm — If you can't be enthusiastic over your society, either the society is no good or you are not interested. In either case you don't belong in it; better get out.