Monday, February 09, 2009

Ever wonder how sausage is made? GOE Reader blogs about the process

Read it all HERE over at the Ember Days blog


GOE Readers Conference Part I

The shuttle from the airport has collected several readers. The author of a liturgical manual that forbids everything I like to do has just hopped on. I've already seen one guy I know, and we catch up briefly on the acquaintances we have in common.

Talk turns to the exams. "How were your exams this year?" "Two were really good, two were OK, and one was awful." "Oh, you did better than I did. I had one good one and four in varying degrees of bad." "I had a guy who kept quoting Latin. And getting it wrong." I express my surprise that so many people wandered quickly from the topic, never to return. "It's a common problem," says my friend; "remember how it was for you writing them last year -- the pressure, you get nervous . . ."

Everyone else in the shuttle has done this before, most of them several times. This reassures me that this will be a good experience. I need the reassurance, because my lingering cold hasn't taken kindly to traveling, especially to colder weather. After we arrive, a helpful colleague shows me where things are. "And there's a bar," she points out. "Believe me, it's busy."

I should hope so.

The list tells me that I know three other people here, besides the one I've already seen: two priests from my diocese and a bishop who was a grad student in theology at the University of Barchester when I was a grad student in philosophy. Chances are very good that he won't remember me -- I would in fact be stunned if he did -- but a familiar face is a familiar face. Dinner tonight is my chance to get to know some unfamiliar ones. Then it's right into reader training. The evening will end with Compline.

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GOE Readers Conference Part II

(In my defense, there's nothing in the Rule that explicitly prohibits blogging after Compline.)

Reader training began with background information and grading criteria for the first three questions. We were also shown three sample answers, which we were to read and then evaluate with our partners. On two of the three, our evaluation agreed with the chaplains'. On the third, we were off: we thought it deserved a 2, but the chaplains had given it a 4. There was a lot of discussion after that one, and my liturgical scholar from the shuttle raised precisely the objection that I had raised with my partner.

It's clear that everyone is giving this work very careful attention. We all want to evaluate these exams intelligently and fairly. Hashing out our disagreements, getting clear on why certain essays are evaluated in certain ways, is an important part of that effort. Getting 100 Episcopalians to agree about how to read theological essays is not a particularly easy task.

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