THE SENIOR CIRCLE.
As last year, when both the name and the organisation of what was formerly the Senior Debating Society, were changed, the Senior Circle has embarked upon another series of fortnightly meetings with a large and varied range of topics for discussion. Already, at the time of writing, an impromptu debate on the banning of Rock around the Clock, an evening devoted to accounts (of varying degrees of accuracy, it is suspected) by Members, of their holidays abroad, and a talk and discussion upon the Arab-Israeli situation have been held. The last and most successful meeting, which girls from Walthamstow, Woodford and Wanstead schools attended, was opened by Mr. Salamon, a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalern, who proved an excellent speaker, able, so it seemed, to answer the most provocative of questions put to him by his audience.
Among the plans for the year 1956-7 are the House Debating Competition, a Mock Parliament, an evening of Tall Stories and, shyness permitting, singing of Christmas Carols to aid a deserving charity.
Once again, the Circle is under the very able guidance of Messrs. Crouch and Purkis, who generally rectify the mistakes of their not-so-able committee, which is composed of the following members: E.R.Norman (ex-officio). M.A.McColgan (secretary), P.K.Sen, T.R.Cooke, N.Pritchard, K.Wise, R.Marks, D.Tillyer. H.Marcovitch, D.Winnett.
THE JUNIOR DEBATING AND DISCUSSION SOCIETI'.
This Society had some very successful meetings in the Autumn Term, including a Brains Trust with the committee as the brains. The committee consisted of: Smy (Secretary), Pemble, Hubbard, Wigston, Moore and Bavington. There was also a debate on the motion that "After one year I.T.V. has not justified its existence." This motion was rejected. There was a discussion on the Russia-Satellite problem: and to round off the term we had a "bun-fight" sponsored by The Junior Outlook. Judging by the attendances, this Society can certainly claim to be one of the most popular in the junior School.
THE INTER HOUSE DEBATING COMPETITION
For the second year running the Senior Circle has sponsored the Inter-House Debating Competition, on the results of which are awarded the Allpass Prizes for Declamation and the "Norman Cup" for Debating.
The standard of debating this year has been much higher than before, but there is considerable room for improvement. It is the aim of a debate that the speakers persuade those present to accept or reject a particular motion. They must resist the temptation to introduce material which, vaguely connected with the subject, is irrelevant to the particular motion. This year's speakers did not always succeed in doing this. Most of them showed that they had not given sufficient thought to the motion. Their speeches were disjointed and badly planned so that in certain instances it was impossible to detect a logical unfolding of an argument. It should be remembered that a debate presents an opportunity for teamwork. In all cases this was not as satisfactory as it might have been, but one House produced two speakers who succeeded in contradicting each other.
To have produced a logical argument is an achievement, but is not enough if one is to convince an opponent. The speech that is delivered must be persuasive. Each speaker must bring to the discussion an enthusiasm which will compel attention and consideration of his points. On few occasions could this be said to have happened at the House Debates.
Speakers must learn the importance of speech that is clear and distinct and the value of being able to regulate the tone and pitch of the voice to suit the occasion. Too many of the speakers were monotonous in their delivery. The stance of the main speakers generally served to irritate the audience.
It must be realised that it requires skill and practice to make use of points put forward by opposition speakers and from the floor of the House. Those who are called upon to sum up should pay attention to this.
Much criticism has been levelled at the speakers for and against a motion. They cannot be expected to do their best if they have a small or unco-operative audience. In spite of the fact that the debates were part of a House competition there was a general lack of House spirit and enthusiasm. Questions were, for the most part, confined to members of the Sixth. This is a pity. It is to be hoped that in future debates there will be more response from the floor of the House and that juniors who attend the debates will overcome their reserve in the presence of seniors. What has been said about relevance to the motion applies equally to questions and comments from the floor.
Finally, it should be remembered that a debate is formal and that there are courtesies that are expected of and that should be extended to all present. Every person should be addressed as Mr., and all questions and remarks should be addressed to the Chairman.
DETAILS OF COMPETITION.
(a) "That this House believes that politicians should retire at 45."
Proposed by Higham; McColgan and Craske.
Opposed by Mallinson: Pritchard and Barry.
Mallinson 111: Higham 99.
(b) " That this House is of the opinion that America is superior to Great Britain in her modern cultural attainments."
Proposed by Allpass: Ashton and Martin.
Opposed by Whittingham: Sen and Hale.
Allpass 98: Whittingham 83.
(a) " That this House is of the opinion that the lion is no longer the appropriate animal to be the British national emblem."
Proposed by Allpass: Martin and Callen.
Opposed by Morris: Durham and Cooke.
Allpass 106: Morris 91.
(b) " That this House believes that petrol rationing has been a blessing in disguise."
Proposed by Mallinson: Pritchard and Barry.
Opposed by Spivey: Rosenberg and Tillyer.
Mallinson 90: Spivey 87.
In the first two rounds the judges were Messrs. Colgate, Couch and Purkis.
McColgan and Sen were nominated to participate in the final round.
"That this House is of the opinion that the House system in a grammar school has outlived its purpose."
Chairman: Mr. H.T.E.Miles.
Proposed by Allpass: Ashton and Callen, supported by McColgan.
Opposed by Mallinson: Pritchard and Barry, supported by Sen.
The standard of debate in the final round proved to be much higher. Ashton opened with a well planned speech in which his points followed in a clear, logical order. In his delivery the pronunciation was good, but the effect produced was that of the lecture rather than oratory. There was an occasional reference to notes and his movements showed that he had more control of himself than on former occasions. In bringing the speech to a conclusion there was a note of hesitation.
Pritchard, opening for the opposition, again failed to make the best use of his voice so that many in the audience were unable to hear the argument. The speech itself was reasonably well planned, but in enumerating the advantages of the House system, he produced examples that reminded one too much of a catalogue.
In seconding Ashton, Callen showed at once Allpass House speakers were acting as a team. He made good use of points made by the opposition and in his delivery took the audience into his confidence with a very pleasant, conversational talk. His voice was clear, but there were occasional lapses of diction. Barry, although audible and clear, did not appear to have given sufficient thought and preparation to his speech. There was a jerkiness of delivery, a repetition of his own and the proposer's points, a failure to seize upon points made by the other side and a number of irrelevant facts.
McColgan and Sen were participating as individual competitors for the Allpass Prize and were obviously trying to make an impression individually. McColgan produced some good points, but was weak in stance and delivery. He must learn to eliminate irritating mannerisms of speech. Sen, following his usual vein, produced a speech that was entertaining, but hardly calculated to advance the cause of the opposition. His attitude towards the audience was far too casual.
The decision of the adjudicator, Mr. Midgeley, the Essex County Drama Adviser, awarded the Allpass Prize for Declamation to D.Ashton and the "Norman Cup" for Debating to Allpass House. The Cup was presented to Callen, the House Captain, by Mr. Norman, the donor, whom we were pleased to welcome into our midst for the afternoon.