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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Father Ted gives the Bishop a 'C'

Father Ted writes about our need to be aware of our own agenda

Elsewhere - in the War on Terror debate, I've mentioned the need to be aware of our own agenda, a point which makes web discussion useful

However, an unconscious piece of reading with lowered (or a different agenda) has amused me since it happened:

Hard at work burning the midnight oil, and several candles at the other end from the morning, I was wading through and marking post-graduate submissions. Usually I try and avoid noticing the author when doing so. I found it helped me to become less biassed by their previous work.

The final one I duly awarded a "C" mark, defined by the College Tutor's Manual as "Careful work, marked by industry and effort. Perhaps some lack of balance; equivalent to work of third class quality. Such work covers some of the important ground/issues adequately, leaving other important areas unconsidered or poorly dealt with. Presentation is satisfactory, and points made are made effectively. A student who frequently gets "C"s would not be encouraged to pursue further studies at Master's level."

I then turned to see who the student responsible was. To my surprise it was not one of my students at all. I had inadvertently, and at a late hour and in fairly reduced lighting, had marked an advance copy of a report sent to me by the suffragan bishop for information.

Alas! The authors were a committee of our Cof E bishops. I had - I suspect correctly - marked the "Manchester Report" which was to set up the system of flying bishops.

The lesson I drew from the experience was that reading it carefully and analytically for marking was quite the wrong context. However, this mind-set neatly avoided the agenda (e.g. chips on each shoulder!) I would have had reading it in its proper context (= the suffragan bishop's "I thought you'd be interested in this, Ted").

...covered some of the important ground/issues adequately, leaving other important areas unconsidered or poorly dealt with"? You bet it did!

I'm sure there's a lesson for us all. Whatever we read, we read through the lenses of our personal prejudices. The forum gives us a chance to read through other kinds of prejudice.

Stop the extramarital affair


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