Truth in Society

Tuesday, September 27, 1994

Prompt #13


Reading the reports

This morning we have some reports, one on each of the six episodes we've been studying. Although they all represent some serious effort and thinking, none of these reports will tell us all we need to know to be able to decide whether it would be a useful episode to use in an attempt to come to some understanding about belief.

That shouldn't be a surprise. For one thing, probably no report could ever tell us everything we might need to know. The best you could expect would be that there wouldn't be any obvious gaps. These reports, though, will have obvious gaps -- after all, this is a kind of report probably nobody in the class has written before, and they've only had a couple of days and a limited amount of resources to do it.

So our job this morning is to read those reports and help the people who wrote them think about what we still would like to know. It's not easy to imagine what a reader will need to know unless you've got a real one: this morning, each of these reports will have more than three dozen real ones. How can we be of most use to their authors?

Here's what we think might be useful. We'll divide the class into nine groups (we've already done that, on a complicated set of rules about who wrote what and who should read what. The list is on the back). We'll give each group a set of the six reports, and some more of the wonderful color coded paper (so that each person will have one sheet of each color).

Working as individuals, at least for this first part, read the six reports. The reason we've used groups for this part is simply that we didn't want to make 40 copies of each report: everyone doesn't need her own copy. As you read, write down questions and write them on the appropriate colored page.

What kinds of questions? Two kinds. The first is a type with which you are already familiar. These are is from places in the text you don't understand, much like the questions you generated last week. More important is the second type of questions. This one arises from a more focussed sense of something missing. To get at these questions ask yourself:

This second type of question we're asking you to generate will flow from these basic questions.

And remember: the issue here isn't whether they're good reports or not, and so value judgments are just beside the point. The issue is how they can be made more useful. Ask questions that would help the authors make them more useful.

Reading & Response Groups for 27 September:

[Names Deleted]

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