Societies and Clubs
Roedean has always placed considerable emphasis on the importance of Public Speaking. Roedean wishes all its students to be able to research accurately and thoroughly; to argue persuasively and passionately, but without rancour and intolerance; to present speeches that are appropriate in register and style for any occasion; and to deliver speeches confidently and unaffectedly.
Every year, Roedean participates in the premiere Public Speaking Competition run by the Speech and Drama College (SA), and the school’s results are always exceptional, with A symbols and A+ symbols abounding! All the Public Speaking teams are trained by members of the English Department, and the dedication and expertise of both trainers and speakers certainly bear fruit. In 2010, Roedean won the prestigious Trophy Team Event for the second year in succession, and, at every level of the competition, Roedean’s teams were acclaimed.
In addition to the Public Speaking Competition that dominates the first term of every year, Roedean also participates in the Rotary Individual Speaking Competition that takes place later in the year. In this competition, the school has also proved victorious on more than one occasion! Debating and public speaking are central to the educational ethos of Roedean. A clear head and an eloquent tongue are essential in the challenging adult world, and Roedean teachers encourage all pupils to possess both!
Debating is alive and well and living at Roedean!
In keeping with Roedean’s belief in the importance of developing critical thinking skills, girls are actively encouraged to become members of the Debating Society. A thriving and dedicated group of debaters meets once or twice a week for about two hours. Roedean is fortunate to have an experienced coach who addresses the needs and requirements of the team. A typical debating meeting will consist of the animated discussion of some of the latest issues making headlines, followed by the analysis of a particular motion. There is always much laughter and a high level of energy at these meetings, with girls eager to share their discoveries. A prep session will follow to enable the girls to strategise and develop arguments. After the debate, there will be an adjudication offering constructive criticism. A research file is constantly updated by the girls.
Roedean takes part in the SACEE Debating League at both Junior and Senior level. The league, based on the World Schools style of debating, runs throughout the year with the first few rounds being based on prepared motions. What then is the World Schools style of debate? Debating is far more than merely making a speech. Both teams offer points of information during the other side’s speeches and this brings about a major change in the role of speakers in a debate. Each speaker is expected to take part in the debate from beginning to end, not just during the individual speech. The speakers play this role by offering points of information. Even if the points are not accepted, they must still demonstrate that they are involved in the debate by continuing to challenge and engage with the argument of the opposing side.
Subsequent rounds of the league require agile thinking and the application of extensive general knowledge in impromptu debates. The year culminates with the Gauteng Provincial Championships and the selection of speakers to represent Gauteng at the National Championships. Roedean has been successful in going through to the provincial rounds, for the last fifteen years. Several of our girls have been chosen to speak at Nationals.
The girls are provided with many opportunities to develop their speaking. Workshops, training sessions, practices and friendly inter-school competitions and debates help to develop the required cognitive skills and the understanding of current affairs, both local and international. An annual Inter-house competition is held to enable the girls to gain experience, and to hone their skills. In order to find new talent and to whet the girls’ appetite for keen debate, the competition is held near the start of the year. Emphasis is also placed on the concept of team spirit. Roedean runs an annual inter-school competition, called the Roedean Round, which takes place shortly before the provincials.
Roedean also takes part in various Model United Nations competitions, many of which are organised by SAIIA, the South African Institute of International Affairs at the University of the Witwatersrand. Model UN debating requires the delegates to behave as would their adopted country. Diplomacy, consistency, authenticity, and a thorough knowledge of the country’s background and strategic alliances are all elements which contribute to the success of the team. Position papers are handed in prior to the debate.
There can be no doubt that debating affords our girls opportunities to reflect on matters which are taking place in society today; there is increased awareness of global issues and an opportunity to spend some very profitable hours exchanging points of view and expressing conflicting views in a thoughtful and structured way. Roedean looks forward to continuing the legacy of considered speech. The skills learnt through debating prove invaluable for other areas of school. Debating becomes a way of life and, on a practical level, an invaluable tool for the academic subjects. The fine art of debate enables girls to feel more confident about putting across their ideas in a logical manner. Roedean debaters learn how to write better structured essays with sound argumentation; they learn how to deliver their ideas in a manner which commands attention. Roedean girls learn to think on their feet. What more can we ask of their education?
The Interact Club is dedicated to serving members of the community who are in need of assistance. This can include visiting and playing with the babies at the Princess Alice Home, serving high tea to the residents of an old age home, knitting blankets for the Winter Warmth initiative or painting and refurbishing a room in a home for abused women. Each personal exchange between the girls and members of the different communities is an invaluable experience. Girls are taught to take responsibility for the issues that exist in and out of their own environments. The Interact Committee plans and manages a number of annual fundraising exercises.
Roedean Enrichment Society
The Enrichment Society was started 2003, and the first Enrichment event was a screening of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. In its infancy, the Society was divided in two: a French Film Society and an English Enrichment Society. The remarkable busyness of Roedean staff-members and pupils soon made it impossible to maintain two flourishing societies. So, the two were united into a general Enrichment Society, which frequently screens French classic works, ranging from Ophuls’s exquisite The Earrings of Madame de … to Truffaut’s innovative Jules et Jim.
The aim of the Enrichment Society is summed up in its name. It aims to enrich pupils and their parents by screening great works with which they are unfamiliar, and which they are unlikely to encounter elsewhere.
One of the problems confronting contemporary teenagers is the failure of an instant-gratification society to acknowledge – meaningfully – cultural debts. The influence of classic works is insufficiently recognized, and the young are often startlingly unaware of the importance of classic works in shaping the culture of today. The Enrichment Society aims to play a role in assisting Johannesburgers (not just Roedeanians) to recognize the importance of classic works and to celebrate past achievements. The Society’s events are frequently inspired by anniversaries: we have paid homage to Singing in the Rain on its sixtieth ʻbirthdayʼ in 2012; Psycho on its fiftieth ʻbirthdayʼ in 2010; Cabaret on its fortieth ʻbirthdayʼ in 2012. We have also examined the oeuvres of various figures, especially dramatists. There have been successful homages to Terence Rattigan and Tennessee Williams, among others.
The Enrichment Society has two meetings per term. The format of each meeting is: tea, followed by an introductory lecture, and then a screening. All are welcome to attend. The entrance fee is R15 per person. The proceeds of each evening are used to benefit the Roedean Library and the Roedean media centre, the REALM.
At the end of each year, the Enrichment Society has a celebratory ʻbanquetʼ, hosted by one of the Roedean houses. The first of these was a ballet evening, and Baryshnikov’s production of The Nutcracker was screened. The proceeds of these special events go towards a variety of charities. The hosting Roedean house chooses the charity.
The provocative critic, Camille Paglia, once observed: “History moves on, but art never forgets.” To ensure that our future is culturally rich, we must never forget the contribution of all great art to our development. The Enrichment Society hopes to aid all interested people to remember, and to encourage them to celebrate!