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Roberts Rules of Order Revised
> Chapter 14. Plan for Study of Parliamentary Law > Introduction.
Henry M. Robert
Roberts Rules of Order Revised.
PLAN FOR STUDY OF PARLIAMENTARY LAW
These Lesson Outlines are designed to assist clubs and individual students who wish to study Roberts Rules of Order Revised. The Manual is not arranged primarily with a view to study, but for the special object of providing a set of rules for adoption by city councils, corporations, literary societies, clubs, assemblies, and occasional meetings. In studying it the preferable way is to learn the few elementary things that one must know in order to take the slightest part in a deliberative meeting and then to learn how with ease to use this Manual to find the correct ruling or decision on any point that may arise. When one has accomplished this, which is covered by the first four lessons outlined below, he is prepared to study in detail any portion of the Manual, and in any order that may suit him.
In these Lesson Outlines the four introductory lessons are followed by the all-important subject of Amendments, to which an entire lesson is given. This lesson should be thoroughly mastered, as the subject of amendments is probably equal in difficulty and importance to all the rest of parliamentary law.
After Amendments, the order of the subjects in the Manual is followed in the Lesson Outlines with the following exceptions: Incidental Motions are not taken up until all the other motions are disposed of; the Orders of the Day are treated in connection with the motions to Postpone Definitely and Indefinitely, because they are so intimately connected, the Orders of the Day being made by postponing to a certain time or by adopting a program; the subject of Committees is treated in connection with the motion to Commit; and to Take from the Table is treated in connection with to Lay on the Table.
The Rules of Order is essentially a work of reference, and the student should keep this in view. He should aim at learning how to find a ruling quickly, rather than at remembering the ruling. On this account each student should always have his copy of the book with him at every meeting and familiarize himself with its use. Efficiency, however, as a parliamentarian is acquired only by practice. Book knowledge is valuable just as with games and athletics, but just as no amount of theoretical knowledge without practice will enable a man to excel in playing chess or in swimming, so no amount of theoretical knowledge of parliamentary law without practice will make a man a good practical parliamentarian.
If the student has the advantage of being a member of a class, the teacher will, doubtless, use parliamentary drills. If he has no teacher, he should study the Manual as laid down in the Lesson Outlines, and try to interest others to join him in forming a practice club. This practice club should hold frequent meetings, thus giving an opportunity for putting into practice what has been learned. The officers should be constantly changed so as to give different members the opportunity to preside.
These practice meetings should begin at least as soon as the students have learned what is covered by the first four lessons as outlined further on. At the beginning of each meeting it would be profitable to call for criticisms of the previous meeting. This would encourage the members after each meeting to investigate all doubtful points that have arisen, and would call attention to mistakes that otherwise would be overlooked.
What has just been said in reference to the importance of practice meetings or drills in parliamentary law applies equally to clubs or societies, as only a few of the simplest rules are usually called for in an ordinary meeting. When the club cannot have a suitable teacher, it can carry on the work by electing a member to take charge of the parliamentary drills. This leader should study the course so as to be able to take the place of a teacher.
It will probably be best in all cases to follow the order of the first four lessons, and perhaps the fifth also. But where the time for the meeting is short, it may be advisable to increase the number of lessons. After the fifth lesson circumstances may make it advisable to select only a few out of the remaining lessons and omit the others, or to divide some of the lessons. The outlines as given will serve as a basis for a scheme of lessons adapted to the special conditions in each case.
All through the course there should constantly be drills with open books, to enable the students to acquire facility in referring to a desired point, since, as previously stated, this Manual is a work of reference.