These Lesson Outlines are designed to assist clubs and individual students
who wish to study Robert's 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
outlines 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 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.
I. Organizing and Conducting Business in Mass Meetings and Permanent
[As the officers are usually elected by ballot that method of voting
[46:11-16] should be reviewed in connection with this lesson. The incidental
motions relating to the methods of making nominations and taking the vote and of
closing and reopening nominations and the polls [25,26] should also be reviewed
in connection with this lesson.]