May 29, 2019

How is the gold become dim (Lamentations 4.1).

6.30 am: I awoke, showered, breakfasted, and dispatched various domestic jobs before settling to the morning’s communion. I addressed a necessary corrective. In the maelstrom of daily stresses and strains, it’s easy to drift from these moorings. The psalmist presents not just a series of divine commendations, but the testimony of a life lived under heaven too. They were – for him and subsequent generations of the faithful – tried and tested principles. Any religious conviction worth having must be experimental, existential, and experiential:

8.00 am: At my desk, I continued making preparations for the External Examiner’s visit this afternoon. Mark sheets were finalised, feedback forms dispatched to the School’s office, and liaison and communication loops set up. The next few days will be fulsome; they need to run like clockwork. It’s now the staff’s turn to be under scrutiny. One of the principle roles of an External Examiner is to moderate our marking; we must be seen to be fair and able to justify our judgements not only internally but also against national standards for BA and MA studies at UK art schools.

At the risk of blowing our own trumpet, we’ve never been held to account regarding our assessment regime. It’s rigorous, involving multiple marking, and much consideration, heart-searching, and discussion between staff members. Achieving a consensual and settled view on a student’s attainment takes time.

11.00 am: Mmmmarmite time:

I needed to put on apace. There was shopping to do on top of my academic responsibilities.

The External Examiner’s first task is to obtain an overview of the exhibitions, armed with a full-range of marks. 1.30 pm: I pressed on with postgraduate assessment admin, moving through Masters to PhD level. There’s something unsettling about reducing a student’s performance in a given area to a percentage. It’s too calculating, lifeless, and unable to embrace the subtly of their endeavour. The feedback report addresses that limitation to some extent.

3.00 pm: Back at homebase, I continued to assemble marks and calculate percentages of the whole. 5.20 pm: A break to prepare dinner.

7.30 pm: I continued putting numbers on boxes, bringing to a close those modules for which I’ve charge, for another year. Afterwards, I reflected upon another end, as the evening light declined and the moon vanished behind the clouds.

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