Saturday, January 05, 2008

Christmas is over

StrongOpinions is back in the shadow of the Flatiron Range, the decorations are off the Christmas tree (but the tree hasn't been put out back yet), and the cold is starting to fade, thank goodness. I'm passing on church tomorrow, for fear of giving others this cold, but will go later in the evening to a soup party at L's house with all the folks from school who are in town, mostly GOE-takers. They finished their ordeal today. Blessings on them all.

They had gotten a letter from our Bishop prior to the exam, telling them not to worry - that he viewed GOEs as diagnostic rather than something that would block someone from ordination. So what are the prescriptions that follow a bad grade on one of the sections? Usually a paper of some sort. Some folks are bad test-takers, so doing a paper is a more comfortable thing. I just keep wondering what the true purpose of these exams are. Since all Episcopal seminarians either attend an Episcopal seminary for all three years, or get an MDiv from another seminary and then spend a year doing what is referred to as an "Anglican year" getting Anglican Church History and litugics and such, and since the curricula amongst the various schools is pretty consistent, the product the church gets - we seminarians - is as consistent as it could be, assuming our grades are honest representations of our work. And if our passing or failing these exams has no bearing on whether we are ordained, why take them? If there is a major failing in a particular area, a paper won't solve the problem.

It seems we should either take these tests seriously or eliminate them. The stress - and it IS stressful taking these tests, regardless of the comfort of the Bishop's letter - seems unnecessary. The questions seem directed toward academic interests (one this year was "Do you believe there is such a thing as an intrinsically evil act?" and one was expected to answer it with a three page paper in three and a half hours...heaven help us) rather than the practical problems of the parish.

Just wondering why we do this. I will take them next year and will do adequately on them, I hope. But it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Seems more like a hazing stunt than a useful measure of our readiness for the priesthood.


Crimson Rambler said...

maybe they're useful because quite a lot of what happens AFTER ordination looks more like hazing than anything else, also!!!

Sophia said...

Just thinking about getting through these next year makes my brain hurt. I recently froze up taking a systematics final (not my strong suit on a good day) because it was designed to feel like a GOE question. Eek! I'm not usually a panicky test taker but the thought of having to crank this stuff out so fast scares me.

Kathryn said...

I have to say that GOEs are something i've really REALLY struggled to get my head round...till meeting all my wonderful US friends, I had no idea that such things existed anywhere in the Anglican Communion...Here we are trying to move away from the feeling that ordination is the preserve of the academically competent - at selection conference, the tests are of the verbal/non verbal reasoning variety to ensure that there is no bias in favour of the more scholarly brain...I've had times when I've almost felt i needed to apologise for having a Cambridge degree...and yet, you are being asked to jump through those hoops...There is so much of the ordination training on your side of the Pond that I think about wistfully (being one of those dreaded academics, i guess)...but GOEs...No!

Rev Dr Mom said...

I know you probably know this, but they were meant to standardize the process--the canonicals in some dioceses being much more rigorous than others. That said, I see your point. But it's sort of like taking quals to get a grad degree. And I really hope it's more than hazing.

Mary Beth said...

I've decided that higher ed is all about jumping through hoops. And these are some particularly nasty hoops.