Inter Schools discussion group
The group has now become an institution in the two member schools, and has continued to meet each fortnight during the term. This being so, I propose to depart from the tradition of giving a resume of our meetings in this report to say merely that our discussions interest all members and our attendances, though not huge in numbers, show that those who come are really keen and interested.
Those who attend will remember our discussions, and those who are sufficiently interested to come along will hardly bother to read this. I hope that those members of the staffs of the two schools who take the chair at our meetings were not so dissatisfied with our standard of discussion that they will refuse to help us with their presence in the future.
Despite being handicapped by the departure of several of the older, more experienced debaters, the Inter-Schools Discussion Group has been kept alive by a few keen members who attend regularly.
Apart from these few members, the composition of the Group varies to some extent from meeting to meeting, the other members each coming along two or three times a term. The smallish attendances are not entirely to be regretted, however, as they help to create a friendly and tolerant atmosphere in which newcomers are not afraid to air their own views and opinions. Whilst on the subject of newcomers, I would like to point out to senior members of either of the two Leyton schools who may read this, that they do still belong, at least in theory; to our Group; and they will be made welcome at our meetings. In writing this report, I feel my first duty is to tender the thanks of the Group to those members of the staffs of this School and the Walthamstow Girls' High School, who have taken the chair at our meetings, and who have given us the benefit of their experience and tact in ensuring interesting and informative discussions. Our meetings are held fortnightly and I believe the high level of discussion set by the seniors in "the good old days" has been maintained, proving (although it savours of irreverence when one recalls to mind the giants of the past) that no single person is absolutely indispensable.
The first meeting in the Autumn Term was held in the open air in our quadrangle, as the day was warm. The discussion, " Liberty, equality, fraternity-which is the most important ? " was interesting but not very vigorous, the heat being supplied by the sun, partly because there was some difficulty in making the voice carry in the open air. The experiment was not repeated. The next meeting we had was rather a patchy discussion on the prefectorial system, most members eventually agreeing that some kind of control by senior members is desirable, under whatever name it is cloaked.
The following discussion on "What qualities are necessary to civilised man?" was rather spoiled by irrelevances and by the fact that the meeting unfortunately was curtailed. We ended a term of serious discussions by trying to find "The purpose of life" in a discussion which was at once interesting and informative and productive of good arguments.
The current term was started by a talk on the "Neil System of Education", a democratic system in which the boys run the School! It was found that members did not know as much as they thought they did about the practical running of this system, but this in no way disheartened the Group, which discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the system and its effect on the human character. One of the best and most good-humoured of the present series of discussions was on the "Incompatibility of science and religion." The subject is not quite so abstruse as it sounds, and on the whole this was a very enjoyable evening. At the time of writing this report the next discussion is to be on gambling.
The last lines of this account must be devoted to a warning to the Fifth-formers. Remember that the people who now take the most active parts in the discussions will be leaving in the not so distant future. I am fairly confident that people who are suitable to take over the reins in the future will come along in due course, but I ask them not to leave it too late. Come to the Group's meetings for the rest of the term and be guided in the course to be steered, by those members of experience who must perforce leave soon.
C. M. C.