September 27, 1994
For the rest of this morning you will be working with the people listed on the back of Prompt #13. Your task as a "Reader Group" is to write a "Reader Group Report" for two of the reports on episodes of believing. We'll tell you which ones: if our records are right, you won't be responding to a report you worked on.
"What's a Reader Group Report," we hear you muttering. It's like this:
Last week, a few times we used the language of eating ("appetizer," "chewing," "digesting,") as a metaphor for reading, reflecting and understanding. We're at it again. Consider the collection of coloured pages you have before you (or soon will have before you) as raw question-data. These are the unprocessed questions that arise for Truth in Society members after reading the draft overviews. What the overview authors need, however, is not a raw question-salad to pick through, but a cooked collection of sorted, arranged questions along with additional suggestions and comments. Something spicy, but not too hot; something that they can read and get to work with right away, a Reader Group Report.
Why not have the overview authors deal with the raw question-data? Simple. In our experience, authors are not the best people to decide if a question is scrawny and immature, properly vine-ripened, or just plain rotten. Put less metaphorically, authors, often because they have much invested in a piece of writing, take unprocessed questions as threats rather than as helpful occasions for learning. It's your job as a Reader Group to take the raw questions before you and sift through them, sorting out the outrageous or impossible, arranging similar ones together, writing suggestions and comments to help the authors understand the importance of the questions, and adding questions that occur to you as you prepare your report.
What should your overall guide be in this work? Remember what we said earlier this morning? ". . . these [questions] are meant to help the writers of the report think of things they didn't say, or know that things they chose not to say would, after all, be useful to someone . . . ?" You should be asking yourself this basic question: what do I need to know here so that I could tell whether we'll be able to ask sensible questions about these people's beliefs and their changes. Do I know what kinds of beliefs were involved, who believed what, and whether (and when) they changed their beliefs? Do I know how (and where) I'd start looking to find out those things?
This morning you will repeat this report writing process for two different episodes of believing. The result will be two separate reports. Turn in your group's Reader Group Reports by 11:30 if you can; before 1:00 in any case. The author groups will receive these reports first thing this afternoon.
Please return to EC 120 at 1:00 pm.