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The Speaker, No. 5: Volume II, Issue 1 December, 1906.   By:

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The Table of Contents for this issue is found at the end of the text.



No. 5


The Speaker

Volume II. DECEMBER, 1906. No. 1.

[Sidenote: =The Will=]

In teaching public speaking the final purpose must be to train the will. Without this faculty in control all else comes to nothing. Exercises may be given for articulation, but without a determined purpose to speak distinctly little good will result. The teacher may spend himself in an effort to inspire and enthuse the student, but this is futile unless the student comes to a resolution to attain those excellencies of which the teacher has spoken. That a student may become self reliant is the chief business of the teacher. To suggest such vital things in a way that the student will feel impelled to work them out for himself, this is the art in all teaching. To tell a student all there is to know about a subject, or to present what is said in such a way that the student thinks there is nothing more to be said, is to dwarf and stultify the mind. The inclination of most students is to depend upon the teacher with a helplessness that is as enervating as it is pitiable. Too many teachers, flattered by this attitude or possessed of a sentimental sympathy, encourage it. Thought, discretion, and courage are required to put a student on his own resources and compel him to stay there until he has acquired self mastery.

Public speaking cannot be exchanged for so much time or money. It cannot be bought or sold; it comes, if it comes at all, as the result of a wisely directed determination. The teacher's part is to exalt, enthuse, stimulate. He must criticise, certainly, but this is generally overdone. Like some teachers of English who can never overlook a misplaced comma, whose idea of English seems to be to spell and to punctuate correctly, there are teachers of public speaking whose critical eye never sees farther than gesture, articulation, and emphasis. With this attitude toward their work, they become fault finders rather than teachers. They nag, harrass, and suppress. The business of the teacher is to make the student see visions of beauty, truth and love, to open up to him these mighty fields that he may go in and possess them. To implant a yearning, an unquenchable, all consuming desire to comprehend and to express the emotions of which his teacher enables him to get glimpses.

[Sidenote: =The Teacher=]

Exercises? Yes, all the student can stand without becoming a drone. Criticism? Yes, but no quibbling, no nagging. Criticism is something more than fault finding. The teacher exalts his profession, ennobles his art, and begets consideration for himself when he maintains the highest standards for himself and for his students.

[Sidenote: =Habit=]

Learning to speak well is, like forming character, a matter of self discipline and self culture. A good voice is a good habit; distinct articulation is a good habit; graceful and effective gestures are a good habit. Like all good habits, these are formed by a constant exercise of the will. The teacher's part is to get the students to hear his own voice, to observe his own gestures, and listen to his own articulation. These things cannot be accomplished over night, and if attempted all at once may make the student too self conscious; certainly this condition will result if his faults are continually insisted upon. The teacher's great opportunity is to enable the student to know himself, and to see that he is determined to develop his best self.

[Sidenote: =Sincerity=]

Sincerity in art! One sometimes doubts whether it exists. Take the special field of art with which the readers of this magazine are especially concerned. How many depend upon tricks to get their effects! How many struggle mightily to gain a laugh or "a hand," neglecting the theme, the message, the spirit of that which they are professing to interpret... Continue reading book >>

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