ThinkING, Learning, and Growing are these concepts worth the risk? (Rewrite)

ThinkING and learning are two concepts that I believe are the key to being successful in whatever you do in life, but especially in college. In “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler, the characters in the story are forced to depend on and accept one another. For example, The Terrans and the Tlic begin helping each other to survive. “Life on the Preserve” in “Bloodchild” is how an individual can flourish when they are willing to live with helping the greater needs of society, and then accepting what it offers back. This course really focuses on thinkING and learning, and I feel that in this course I will learn both the risks and rewards of these concepts. In this course I will have to give meaningful feedback to my peers and hope that in return, I get good faith feedback as well. This connects to the “Preserve” in “Bloodchild” Thinking is the action of using one’s mind to produce thoughts (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In this course I can tell that I have already become a more in-depth thinker. For example, when I was doing the second to the forum assignment on good faith, I had to dig deep and think of how I try to use good faith. Also making connections requires deep thinking. Learning is described as knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Having the ability to self-assess myself will really show me whether or not I reached my full potential. As always, I set goals high for myself and try my best to achieve those goals, and with this course I have the opportunity to set my own goals throughout the semester. As Butler said Although I many not always achieve the goals I set that is a part of the “risks” much of what this course focuses on.

There are many risks and rewards that this class offers. One reward that I already took out of this course so far is having the ability to change my “growth mindset” for the better. In the syllabus it states, “These questionnaires emphasize growth mindset” (Professor McCoy). Having the chance to think critically and analyze many different texts is something that this course offers. In this class receiving feedback from my peers will help me to grow as a writer and person. Sometimes the feedback given by a peer might not be something you want to hear, or it may not be constructive but that is all part of the “risks” in this class. In this course the risks will help develop more opportunities for thinking and learning. I have always considered myself to have a growth mindset, where you can learn new things. For me in this course I am going to be learning many new things. Since this is a self-assessed class, I have to trust myself to stay on top of the work in order to succeed. I also have to look at my work from a different point of view, I can’t be too harsh on myself or grade too easy. As seen in “Bloodchild” it is important to contribute and make sacrifices to better each other, and accept what is given by others in return. For this course, it’s important that I remember this. In this class I am looking forward to learning how to grade myself, I have never been given this opportunity before. This course sets limits and rewards on self-assessing. As professor McCoy states “This process entails substantial risk on my part. I believe the possibilities for thinkING and learning are worth the risk.” (McCoy)

This course offers many risks and rewards and it is up too you whether or not you make the most out of it. For me, the process of self-growth as a writer is what I hope to focus on. By the end of the semester I hope to notice a difference in my ability to write, analyze, learn, think, and self-assess. There are limits on all of goals and choices that I have in this course, but in life there are always limits on what you can and cannot do. For example, in life it is key that you limit the amount of time you have to complete a task. You can’t spend everyday doing the same thing, if you limit your time on a task, like an essay, it will help you to focus more on the task and eventually finish it. This course is about responsibility and accountability. I believe that taking risks are well worth it especially if in the end a reward comes out of the “risk”. The overall goal for me in INTD 105 is to further my “growth mindset”, be honest with myself, continue learning, and thinkING to become a successful writer throughout college and beyond.

Maintenance of Trust (Rewrite)

If this course, INTD 105-04, is comparable to that of the Preserve in Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”, then parallels may also be drawn from the partnerships formed within these two institutions. The partnership between Gan and T’Gatoi, and the one between the students of INTD 105-04 and Professor Beth McCoy, are both built on a foundation of trust. Alongside these partnerships are its risk and rewards as well as the responsibilities of the parties involved to uphold it. 

The conditional trust and partnership between Gan and T’Gatoi is one that is born through force of circumstance. Both characters are a part of a system that rewards the mutualism of a Tlic and Terran; within the Preserve established by T’Gatoi and her political faction, the Terrans are protected from the hordes of Tlics that did not understand, or did not care to out of desperation, saw and would have treated Terrans as nothing more than ideal host animals for their young. (Butler, 5) In return, Terrans would willingly carry the fertile eggs of the Tlic ensuring that the Tlic species would not go extinct. Gan had absolutely no qualms about receiving the honor of becoming an N’Tlic, the host of T’Gatoi’s eggs, until he witnessed childbirth for the first time. Lomas, an N’Tlic, who had (unknowingly) accepted the risk in becoming a host – for no Terran, according to T’Gatoi’s experience and knowledge, had seen a birth and take it well, and thus they should be protected from seeing (Butler, 28) – had suffered the horrifying consequences of being left alone by his Tlic partner during childbirth. The possibility of sharing the same fate as Lomas hadn’t been a risk that Gan was willing to take, which left both him and T’Gatoi at a stalemate. Their responsibilities – T’Gatoi to her people, and Gan to his family – were what established their fragile partnership in the end. Both of them have the means to hurt one another to the point beyond forgiveness: in allowing Gan to keep the rifle, T’Gatoi risks putting herself and her children in danger; and there is no telling of the possibility of T’Gatoi being absent when Gan gives birth to her children. It is Gan who has said it best: “There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” (Butler, 26)

Any partnership involves risk and responsibility. For Professor McCoy to extend her trust to the students INTD 105-04, so that they can “meaningfully, thoughtfully, and honestly assess their own coursework based on feedback they receive from instructor and peers” (McCoy), would require good faith on her part, and course accountability of the students.

There are many rewards, two in particular, that I intend to take away from my academic partnerships with Professor McCoy and my classmates. The first is to become a dependable judge of the quality of my work through the practice of unbiased self-assessment. To accomplish this would require that I be honest to myself about my own work. In other words, I must stay vigilant of any biases that I may have towards my work, whether it means to be overly critical or overly lenient. Self-criticism taken too far, harsh, and unforgiving is counterproductive – what was meant to be thoughtful and helpful advice becomes twisted into discouragement. The purpose and process of revision is solely dedicated to the improvement of one’s work, which by no means equates to demoralizing the initial process of thinkING and writing itself. However, to be forgiving without understanding my own work is also counterproductive; it is no different than being indifferent of any errors I have made – a serious breach in my obligations as a student given the privilege of grading my own papers. In short, a biased assessment would lead to an inaccurate evaluation of character; unnecessary steps may be taken to fix what isn’t broken, and the real problems may be ignored. 

The second is to use this opportunity to help myself in transitioning from having a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Because this course removes the “stress-producing grades that end up inevitably becoming the focus instead of the learning” (McCoy), students will be able to dedicate their full attention to their writing and thinkING process, personal growth, and looking out for their peers. I do not doubt that INTD 105-04 is a space that would allow the growth mindset to thrive. Rather than anxiously waiting to be graded on the final product of my paper, I could appreciate the journey taken to arrive at my paper’s destination. I would be given more room to ask myself how could I have done better, what I can improve on, what can I do differently next time, rather than agonizing over the shallow question of “did I do good?” If the answer is no, then the usual sensation that entails is the sense of unworthiness. If the answer is yes, then it means I’d have reached the peak of my abilities. Neither answer encourages anything better, the former a downward spiral of negativity, and the latter an excuse to not put in more effort than the bare minimum required. This blatant lack of care and accountability for my work and action is not something I wish to make a habit. With this reward of self-grading, I intend to instill the habit of taking initiative in my personal growth. 

However, these rewards of the self-grading policy would be rendered useless if I did not care to reap them to begin with. I would be breaking Professor McCoy’s trust in me as a student should I forgo my responsibility to not take advantage of her policy by giving myself high, if not full marks, without putting in the work for it. If that were the case, I would be no better than Gan’s older brother Qui, who does not hold himself accountable at all for the safety of his family members. In fact, he gloats at the knowledge of his own safety while Gan is the one who must take the risk of becoming an N’Tlic. (Butler, 21) All the more despicable, as much as he runs away from the risks of the Tlic-Terran partnership, he always comes back to demand for his one of the rewards: a share of the contents of T’Gatoi’s sterile egg for the euphoric high that it induces. (Butler, 9) It didn’t matter to Qui if the lives of his siblings are at stake, but it was the case for Gan, who demonstrates a great deal of accountability throughout “Bloodchild”. He could’ve used his sister, Xuan Hoa, as a shield against the risks of upholding the deal made in the Tlic-Terran partnership, just like Qui. However, he knows himself that he “was not Qui,” and unlike Qui, it would not “be easier to know that red worms were growing in her flesh instead of” his own. (Butler, 26) It is against my values, an impediment to my growth to be like Qui. While his fears were justifiable, he ultimately could not overcome them due to his overpowering selfishness. I will take Gan’s path, because like him, I have many things to care for: myself, my work, my partnerships and all the risks and rewards that it comes with, and the maintenance of Professor McCoy’s trust in my course accountability. 

Self Growth and Responsibility (Rewrite)

Throughout high school, English was nothing but a grade to me. I believed that it was just another course I had to take in order to graduate, with no intention of pursuing it in the future. This mindset continued into college; this writing seminar class was just a mandatory course for my biology degree. I think that this attitude stemmed from my own personal expectations of myself, where I am constantly acting as my biggest critic. However, when I arrived at Geneseo, I quickly realized this was not the case. In actuality, this class is giving me the opportunity to broaden my limits and work freely to improve my writing capabilities, as well as expand on my everyday thinking. It is allowing me to make my own choices and teaching me how to fully articulate them to an audience. Within my first class of Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership, I understood the true purpose of the class. Professor McCoy quickly showed me that the purpose of the class was self reflection, where I was going to work to not only better myself as a writer, but as an individual. I think that this course will give me the ability to be proud of my writing and stop being overly judgmental towards myself. Professor McCoy immediately showed her attention and appreciation to all of the minor details within writing, all of the things that students may completely overlook. 

Through the course, she is trying to teach the importance of thinking and revising, showing students the significance of taking their time and truly thinking about the impact that each word has on the overall final piece. However, there are some topics that can not be taught, such as accountability and care, which are the key ideas discussed throughout the course. The immense amount of responsibility within this course poses as both a positive and negative factor, as each student holds the ability to decide their own fate in the class. This is also where the objective of risks and rewards take place.

I think that the most unique part of this class is the immense amount of self evaluation. Through the process of grading yourself, it is easy just to give yourself a quick 100 and move on. However, this is not the point of the class. By grading yourself, you have to detach yourself and read from an outside perspective. In addition, every individual has an idea of their own capabilities, so you can be your best judge, as you know exactly what you excel at and what you can improve on. Personally, I would like to work on being less critical of my own work. I fully understand I am nowhere near a perfect writer, so as I work to critique my writing, I would like to also learn to compliment my own work. I believe by doing this, it will guide me to become a better writer and a better version of myself. Overall, I think this is a very efficient process of improvement because it allows you to focus on yourself and truly think about new ways to perfect your own writing. During my time in this class, I would like to build confidence in my writing and learn new techniques to go about communicating my ideas. 

I think that a tremendous portion of the class is about taking responsibility. This sounds like a very simple idea, but in reality, they are so many layers to it. Having so much responsibility in a class has its risks and rewards, which is what the class primarily focuses on. While we continue through the semester reading about other people’s risks and rewards in writing, we are going through it ourselves without even realizing it. However, this topic reaches far beyond a writing seminar class.

I believe that the idea of responsibility and setting limits can be displayed throughout the short story “Bloodchild”, by Octavia Butler. In the story, the humans and Tlics have a mutual agreement where each party benefits the other, with the outcome of peace and stability in the world. The humans live in peace with these extraterrestrial beings, with the ability to make their own choices in life. However, they have limits that they must stay within. The humans have a certain expectation to withhold, where they have to help the Tlic to reproduce. Through following this, they can stay within the preserve and also make their own decisions in life. Each individual has the potential to create their own path in life, while staying true to their limits, as do we as students during our college career.

 Every day, we must make decisions, it’s a fundamental part of life. Whether these challenges are about what to eat for breakfast or what to wear one day, these decisions can hold their own risks and rewards, no matter how big or small they may appear. Yet, with every confrontation you are faced with, it’s key to take responsibility for every decision you have to make. Especially today in college, students are faced with many new challenges and they have to make difficult decisions. With the majority of students’ schedules filled with online classes, it poses a difficulty to focus and excel with their time management. Mainly with factors such as online tests, students may have the temptation to search for an answer or ask a friend for help. Nonetheless, this is where responsibility takes on an essential role, as they must make a choice. If one decides to cheat or ignore an online lecture, how will the professor know? This may seem like a reward, yet in the long run, it will most definitely pose as a risk. The student will fall behind in the material for future class discussions and exams. When making these decisions it is incredibly critical to understand the risks and rewards of every scenario, as one short lived reward may easily turn into a dangerous risk.

Because of this, the ideas of accountability and care for yourself, as well as others, becomes crucial. According to the syllabus, the three main key concepts to follow are “Care for My Course Accountability”, “Care for My Growth”, and “Care for Peers’ Growth”. By following these guidelines, one can greatly accentuate their growth mindset which can aid them in enhancing their writing skills, while also having the ability to grow as an individual. Through making these daily decisions and taking on any risks in hopes of a final reward, care plays a significant role. Caring for yourself as well as your peers can greatly help one succeed as a writer and overall character. Through caring for your peers, you can expand your ideas and get inspired from other people’s feedback. I believe that by following all of these set principles, the opportunities for growth are limitless.

Life as a Preserve (Rewrite)

In Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild,” there are many decisions made inside of a “preserve.” In “Bloodchild,” this preserve is specifically where the Terrans, or human, and Tlic coexist. The Terrans are awarded their freedom in exchange for them offering a male of the family to house Tlic eggs. Even though this is a “freedom,” the Terrans are still very trapped. They have restraints set on them because of this freedom. In this course, we are almost in our own type of “preserve.” In fact, life in general is in some ways a “preserve.” No matter the choices you make in life, they are your choices, and most will have risks and rewards. The risks are what limits choices in a way that you cannot become too overwhelmed from the power of creating you own destiny. In this course specifically, we are given lots of freedom, yet that freedom can be exactly what sets some limits. A person is always their harshest critic, so the self-evaluation aspect of this course should make me dive deeper into my writing than ever before. The large emphasis placed on care in this course gives me enough freedom that I have to make critical choices, but not too much that I do not feel I have guidance. 

Going along with the course syllabus, the first aspect of care is care for course accountability. This is probably where the most critical choices will have to be made. As stated by Professor McCoy in the syllabus, she will “offer feedback on your work, but you will assess that work, a process that depends on trust, transparency, accountability, care, and acknowledging the possibility of harm.” That alone is so much responsibility, and it needs to be handled with grace and care. Although I can make choices for myself, this almost sets more limits. Even though I technically choose how I am graded, I cannot give myself I grade I feel is undeserved. This gives me the responsibility to set my own limits and choose what is really fair for my grade. For example, if I am not keeping up with my work, even though I am self-assessed, I could not in good conscience give myself a good grade. Being held accountable is a blessing and a curse because I can choose when to do my work, but I also need to make sure I am keeping up with all my deadlines. This is similar to how Gan in “Bloodchild” knew he needed to let T’Gatoi implant her eggs into him. He was given the choice to let her implant them into Hoa, but he knew he had to hold himself accountable and could not put her at risk. Although the risks are high, the rewards have the potential to be so great that I just need to make sure I make the best of my time in this “preserve” of the course.  

Although this ties into care for course accountability, the care for self-growth is unique and important in its own way. I like to interpret this as the process of learning and thinking instead of just memorizing and repeating. Like Professor McCoy stated in the syllabus, “it is equally important to take care about process.” If I need to learn something, the process of this learning should be just as important as the lesson itself. Self-growth will not just happen overnight, it is a whole process. Although I am being provided the freedom to grow as an individual, the process of growth can be difficult to manage. I cannot just take the easy route in writing a piece, turning it in, and being done right then. I have to make sure I am double and triple checking before I turn in my first draft. Even from there I will have more edits to make and even more I can work on. This may be challenging, but it will allow me to someday have the tools I need to be an independent and hardworking person. Although these limits may seem invisible, they most definitely are not, and they will affect my growth in the future. 

With all this responsibility on myself, the care for peer growth aspect is so important. Although there is some freedom because of the ability to help others with their work, I think the important part of the peer growth is how they will help me. It sets limits for me, it will show me where changes need to be made and how to make them. It gives a level of guidance that would not be received if it were not for all of us caring about peer growth. Our discussions in the forums will be meaningful, not just for that very moment, but to help me grow in a long-term manner. These “discussions are places to bring people together sometimes as an entire class and often in smaller groups to contribute thinkING and get responses from peers,” as stated in the syllabus provided by Professor McCoy. When Qui was talking to Gan in “Bloodchild,” he provided information on a past experience he had, witnessing fetal Tlic eating their host from the inside out. This is almost an example of peer review. Qui provided Gan with information to help him make the best decision when considering how he felt about having Tlic eggs implanted in him. The main purpose of this course is to see improvement as a thinker. With the help of many different perspectives, I will be provided with the clarity I need to become a better writer. I will be able to improve my craft with all the possibilities being provided to me by my peers, while they will also act as an editing tool to help me identify the limits.  

All of this cycles back to this course being a “preserve” in one way or another. I do feel like I have more freedom in this course than most others I have taken in my life, yet there is still a sense of limitation. I don’t necessarily feel like I can just do whatever I want whenever I want. I’ve noticed myself striving to be my best for me, not for the grade. I have found that this course has allowed my brain to flourish in ways I didn’t even know were possible. It is no longer just words on a paper, its thinking through every sentence and analyzing each piece to make sure it is the best it can be, and honestly, right now they never are the best they can be. This is why it is good that I submit it for feedback, because after each assignment I have the ability to go back and make it even better. I do this wanting to feel the fulfilment of doing a good job, not looking to up my grade. Even though I may be writing and editing more than I normally would, which most would consider a limit, I feel free to be the best writer I can be. 

“Self- Honesty in a Self- Assessed Class” (Rewrite)

One of the most reliable ways to receive the truest grade of a student in my opinion, is to make them grade their work themselves. Just like the name of the course, “Risk and Rewards,” there are many risks and rewards that come with the course, being a self-evaluated subject. In this class, everything we do is based around care; care for my growth, care for my peers’ growth, and care for my course accountability. Risks and rewards are not only prevalent in schoolwork and grading, but also in literature, movies, basically everything has a risk or reward. In this self-assessed class, we see examples of risks and rewards in the work we submit and participate in, but also in the literature we have to read for the class, for example, “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler.

The short story, “Bloodchild,” revolves around the life of a Terran boy named Gan who lives in preserve. In this preserve there is a sort of caste system where the Terran people are said to be protected by the “Tlic.” In return for protection, some Terran people are expected to host baby Tlic called “worms.” When Gan was born, he had already been picked to be a host for a Tlic named T’Gatoi’s children. Being picked so early on meant Gan received special treatment that most Terran’s weren’t privy to; he could eat a whole egg himself, didn’t have to work like his siblings did, and was more protected. On page 11 of “Bloodchild,” Gan states, “I had spent most of my time with T’Gatoi while my brother and sisters were learning the family business.” I consider Gan’s special treatment to be a reward for being the selected Terran.

On the other hand, being chosen as a host by T’Gatoi came with more severe risks. In the short story, a sick N’Tlic wanders into Gan’s backyard. This person named Bram Lomas was also chosen as a host, and the worms inside him had begun to eat him alive. After witnessing Bram Lomas being cut open by T’Gatoi’s claws, and seeing the worms pulled out of him, Gan’s allegiance began to sway. In “Bloodchild” on page 24, when Gan’s mind begins to change, he says, “I don’t want to be a host animal… not even yours.” He realizes that there may be too many risks with being a host for the Tlic compared to rewards. Unlike in “Bloodchild,” in our self-assessed class, I believe the rewards of the freedom we have privilege to, outweighs the risks.

In the course syllabus, a major part of our grades is determined based on our “care for my course accountability.” This makes up 20% of our grade at the end of the semester, which will be on a 1-100 scale. The risk of having this privilege is not having an in-person teacher to remind you to do the work, you just have to do it yourself. If you are not a motivated person, this freedom could be your downfall. For example, if you aren’t on the lookout, checking your email, checking canvas, doing extra credit, you’ll begin to forget to check your work, and gradually fall behind.

However, having the freedom to hold yourself accountable, has even more, long-term benefits. Later in life, when we all live on our own, without our parents or other guardians, we will have to hold ourselves accountable. No one is going to be there, reminding us about chores we have to do, or to pay our bills. This option we have in this course prepares us for the later in life experience we need.

The second evaluation that makes up a large portion of our grade is the “care for my growth,” mentioned in the syllabus. This makes up 40% of our final grade and is once again determined by us on a scale of 1-100. This section of our grade is made up of our ability to apply feedback given to us by our peers, apply key course concepts, essentially just how much care and effort we put into improving our work. The risk of this freedom that we have is that since our work isn’t graded by a professor, we may not concern ourselves with the quality of our work, leading to our work gradually becoming lower and lower quality.

The reward of having this privilege is in the future it’ll be easier to honestly evaluate how we’re doing. Even now just in other college courses we’re taking, we can be able to feel more motivated to remain consistent throughout the semester. Having the ability to grade yourself, makes you want to be even more on track with your work. I think there’s a direct correlation between the quality of work improving and being honest. Because once you realize that YOU grade YOURSELF, you don’t want to be dishonest, so you try to improve the quality of your assignments.

The last evaluation we have to make at the end of the semester is our ability to “care for peers’ growth.” In my opinion I think this is the most important section of our evaluation. This self-assessed section will make up 40% of our final grade and is once again based on a 1-100 scale. I think a unique quality of this course is that once we submit an assignment, the other students enrolled in the course have the ability to assess our work and leave comments and advice to improve our work. Now, obviously I think a risk here is that someone could become offended by the criticism on their work or disagree and become upset with the advice. Personally, the risk I see here is that some students could be anxious to make their assignments public, in fear that the other students will judge their work; or vice versa, they could be afraid to comment on another students work because they don’t want to upset anyone or have another student think their critiques were not legitimate. 

I think that this section is the most important because throughout life, everyone receives constructive criticism from others, and this objective in the course teaches us how to take the criticism and apply it to our work to improve it. Most of the time criticism is used to help better others, and in life, when people offer it, it’s probably better to take the advice and use it, rather than disregard it and stay the same. Having people there constantly being able to evaluate your work will help us all improve the quality of it, and hopefully if we remember their advice, we can apply it to our work in the future.

After reading over and evaluating the key concepts and literature from this course, I’ve come to the conclusion that the risks and rewards differentiate based on the circumstances. The rules of this course are more unique, and I think that rewards us with more experience for future courses. However, rewards outweighing risks does not apply to every situation, just like in “Bloodchild.”

Care for Growth Mindset (Rewrite)

Transitioning from High School to College is tough and it does not help when Covid-19 is in the mix. For all of us our spring semesters were cut short and brought online, with that came the feeling of uncertainty and laziness. Now fast forward to today we are all back to our new normal which can come with some shock. There is also a huge difference between High School classes and College courses. High School is a steppingstone, high school was there to teach you the necessary materials to pass the year. Everything was geared towards the final exam at the end of the year, although they were in the process of transitioning us to be successful in college. College is where it all matters, it is where a person grows and learns to become that person they want to be. Dr. Beth McCoy’s writing seminar Risks and Rewards for Academic Partnership will aid in the growth of care for accountability, personal growth, and peers’ growth. After reading Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” I have recognized the similarities between the risks and rewards her characters face in their planet and the risk and rewards I am facing within this course. Gan walks through life managing his risks and rewards with the decisions he makes after reading through the courses syllabus I have recognized that I too have decisions to make than can either lead to a risk or a reward.

A huge factor this course plays with growth mindset is the ability that we will be learning to assess our own works. Dr. McCoy will assist by offering feedback, but we will be assessing our works using care for accountability, personal growth, and peers’ growth. This is an amazing growth opportunity because it comes with learning that it depends “on trust, transparency, accountability, care, and acknowledging the possibility of harm” (Dr. McCoy). All of these are important characteristics to learn when learning about the care of accountability. The care of accountability is an important lesson to learn and comes with many benefits. Accountability comes with a lot of trust, you are in control of your actions, if something is not done then it is on you. A benefit to learning this skill now is that we are learning to value our work as well as building confidence, which will be beneficial throughout the duration of college as well as life. You are learning the ability to go over your work and seek out the priorities. This is a privilege that will teach so many life skills, but if not gone about properly could risk a lack of trust. You will be affecting yourself, but also your peers. If you cannot properly determine your grade it could lead to the loss of trust from your Professor and your peers.

How you go about this course is on you, but your choices and actions reflect on everyone. This course comes with its opportunities, “You have the opportunity to care for the course, for yourself, and for others” (McCoy). If there is no care for the course, then the energy you put in will not help. Caring for the course will provide you with the right motivation that will help you to succeed. You have the ability to determine your grade, but that does not mean that you give yourself a grade you do not deserve. The chance to look into your work and thoroughly go through and determine how well you did on that assignment is a great lesson to learn. With grading your own work, you have the risk of failing yourself. It is a lot easier to fail ourselves because we are our own enemy. We are so tough on ourselves that we will critique our work to a higher degree than needed. Dr. McCoy will be there to help guide us in the right direction with her very helpful notes, in fact in the syllabus she states “Meaningfully, thoughtfully, and honestly assess their own coursework based on feedback they receive from instructors and from peers” (McCoy). As much as this course is about you learning new skills, it is also about working as a team. We can help and learn from each other.

This course offers so many opportunities to receive rewards, even if that means learning from the risks. Whatever you put into this course you will get out of it. For me I am excited to learn how to grade myself with just the right amount of criticism. I am my own enemy; I am so harsh on myself when it comes to reviewing my work, so I am ready to learn how to accept criticism from others and from myself. Something I have been working towards is having a growth mindset and with this course I will be able to make that dream a reality. This course has the potential to help every student learn new skills and reach their goals. By learning about risks and rewards I have learned that everything has a consequence, it is just whether it is good or bad. But the good thing is that the risks in this course will lead to more knowledge. With this course you set your goals and limits, and then it’s up to you to achieve them. Practicing “How to perform meaningful, good-faith, principled self-assessment and accountability is an important professional and personal skill” (McCoy). In other words, the class for The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership will help you grow both in a professional mannerism and within your own skill set. The main character Gan in “Bloodchild” had to weigh the risks and rewards of being a host of his Tlic T’Gatoi’s larvae. Gan had originally looked at this as a great opportunity, until he had witnessed the labor of another male. The delivery process had scared Gan and left him thinking about the risks and rewards of his decision to either go through with being a host or not. Gan’s example of balancing the risks and rewards of being a host or not is very similar to the risks and rewards I have to balance during this course.

The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership course offers so many great skills. With this course comes responsibility for it is up to you to grade and assess your own works. This course may prove difficult for some people since they must set forth their own discipline, but for some this may provide them with so much growth. At the end of the day this course will help each student grow and develop into who they want to be if they care for the course. Caring for the course will lead to the eagerness to learn. The good thing about learning new things is always remembering what you have learned so that you can look back onto it one day. This course will give you so much freedom to explore the rights and wrongs of how to self-assess. Gan talks about T’Gatoi and mentions how “The preserve was hers by the time she came back…[as a] reward for her hard work” (Butler). I know that by working towards my goals and being able to set forth a good mindset I will also bask in the rewards just as T’Gatoi had for all her hard work. I am ready to learn and develop a good growth mindset. 

Limited Choices for Growth

Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” is a story about the risks and rewards of decisions made within a “Preserve,” a space wherein power both makes choices possible and sets limits on them. A college course may be understood as one such “preserve,” and this course on the risks and rewards of academic partnership reads as no exception. In the courses foundational documents it states that students are graded by themselves. Students grade themselves based on their personal care for their course accountability, their growth, and their peer’s growth. This is how the course gives its students the power to make decisions but also set limits on them. The course creates a situation where students are given the opportunity to make choices that will affect their grade but also set a limit on them through accountability, honesty, and obviously the guidance of the course’s professor. This is where a connection to Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” can be formed. In the story humans live on a planet in a protected community previously mentioned as a “Preserve”. In the preserve the humans are protected by an alien race called the Tlic. In exchange for protection within the preserve humans have the eggs of the Tlic as they are ideal hosts. The group of humans provide one male of each family to be a host for the Tlic’s eggs. Through this relationship between beings, humans have the ability to make decisions that have risks and rewards but ultimately are limited by the Tlics. The goal within this relationship is the same for both Humans and Tlics, they want to survive. This could relate to INTD 105 because students and the course have the same common goal, to introduce, create, and sustain good academic writing.

 I like to visualize the humans in “Bloodchild” as the students of INTD 105. We both make decisions that come with risks and rewards. Meanwhile the Tlics represent the limits held on those decisions we make, such as guidelines given within the course like its syllabus and the content given by Professor McCoy. While students are given the freedom to choose how they interpret and respond to content, they are actually steered in a very open direction by the prompts and guidance given by Professor McCoy. This partnership that I share with Professor McCoy, in my opinion, really creates an educational environment that can really have an affect on my growth as a writer. My personal growth is my number one goal not only as a writer, but as a student. The betterment of my thinking of my thinking is why I continued my education. The way I’m able to make a decision on how I would like to view a prompt and then be very slightly guided in a direction to take my thinking really opens my mind to what I’m writing about. The risk is very small as there is not really an incorrect way to take a prompt so there is no wrong answer. However the risk really comes with the understanding of the content. INTD 105 is online so students must teach themselves most of the time apart from Professor McCoy’s guidance. The reward of this course though, comes in Professor McCoy’s feedback and the overall growth in writing skills a student obtains.

While my main goal is relatively simple, to become a better writer. I like to surround myself with little goals that will effectively accomplish my main goal. Starting with a small goal can really help accomplishing a larger one. The first one to start with would be to work on writing better and concise central ideas that are relevant to the topic. Understanding a prompt and what it is asking you to do is important and it is what your writing will be about. While INTD 105 allows its students to interpret the prompt freely, it does give a writer somewhat of a path to go down. Much like the humans in “Bloodchild” understanding their purpose within their Preserve, understanding what to write about leads to better ideas and concepts on the topic. Being able to understand these prompts and knowing what to write about is definitely the first small goal to go for. Completing this goal comes with more practice, the more content I consume in INTD 105 the more I’ll be able to understand. A second goal I have is to better support  statements I make in my writing. This is a key skill to writing as it helps connect ideas and convey a message that I want to leave to my readers. I feel that I can accomplish this goal by providing more efficient evidence that will fully support my statements in my writing. Using these skills would accomplish one of the Learning Outcomes of INTD 105’s syllabus in section C-3 which is “The ability to write clearly, following the conventions of Standard English”.

INTD 105 is about the risks and rewards of academic partnership. I need to make the decisions that will help me achieve my goals whether there’s a limit or not. The Content that comes with this course is used to make writers better. While online education may limit the amount of learning I can achieve, it is up to me to make the decisions that can maximize my learning, It will allow me to grow as much as I can as a writer.

The Impact of Risks and Rewards on Goal Setting in a College Preserve

You wouldn’t typically think of taking a class as inherently risky. However, I think that all choices we make, including taking a class, come with inherent risks and rewards. Some of the risks that come to mind when talking about taking a class, are embarrassment and failure. Some of the rewards associated with taking a college class are growth and success. Going beyond the choice to take a class, are all the choices that will take place during your time in that class. Students taking Intd 105 will learn  how to give and take feedback. Students will be given the freedom to choose what they write about and be offered the responsibility of self-assessment. Thinking about these choices I will have to make, and the short story Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler, helped me develop my goals for this course. 

In Bloodchild, by Octavia E. Butler, impossible decisions are made, and risks and rewards are realized . In the book Tlics are a strong, alien centipede-like species described by Butler as having “three meters of body” they are also described as having “bones–ribs, a long spine, a skull, four sets of limb bones per segment.” Humans are referred to as Terrans. Both species co-habit on the same planet and are reliant on each other for survival. The Tlics provide food and protection for humans, and the humans in turn provide a host for the Tlics eggs, as the Tlics cannot reproduce on their own. This symbiotic relationship creates power struggles that define the risks and rewards of the main characters’ decisions. A single class in a college course of study can similarly be viewed as a symbiotic relationship for the professor, the college as a whole,  and the student.  In Bloodchild, here are many decisions that carry risks and rewards for the main character Gan. Although it may not seem like he has many choices, at one point Gan gets told, “Would you really rather die than bear my young,” by the Tlic he is expected to be a surrogate for. For anyone, choosing between dying and letting your family down,  or being implanted with alien eggs, is a tough one. Although it could be argued there are no real decisions to be made, because the Tlics seem to hold all the power and the Terrans are at whim to whatever the Tlics want, there is still agency for the humans.This theme of choice and power struggles runs throughout the story of Bloodchild. Likewise, the professors and college bureaucracy seem to hold all the power, but students always have a choice in their actions. 

Gan must analyze the choices he has and choose the best one while considering quality of life, and his family.  Gan makes the decision to agree to being impregnated with alien eggs, even after seeing a traumatizing surgery to remove the centipede offspring before it ate a man inside out. When weighing his choices, consenting to being a host is the best decision for Gan and his family. Though Gan doesn’t have many choices, he can choose his attitude towards his situation, and he does. Gan chooses to trust in the Tlics, unlike his brother, who has a bitter attitude towards the Tlic. Gans’ brother is described as having grown up to “fear and distrust the Tlic ”. Gan understands that everyone is dependent on each other.  Thinking about Gan and his tough decisions helped me to think about the choices I had to make for this semester. Although none of my choices are anywhere near as severe as Gan’s, I do have to make choices, and face the consequences of those choices, both positive and negative.  

One risk students will take in  INTD 105 Risk and reward course, is facing fears. While taking this class the syllabus will provide students guidance on the way the class will work throughout the year. In the course syllabus, Professor McCoy informs students that they will be sharing their work and providing feedback to each other. I feel like this is a risk for some students, like myself, who don’t feel strong in their writing abilities. Professor McCoy said in the syllabus “Remember that growth will be difficult if not impossible if work is not presented consistently for feedback;” Sharing written assignments with the class, and opening yourself up to feedback definitely can feel like an academic risk. However, without feedback I know I will never improve my writing skills. Feedback is extremely important especially when it comes to honing in on a skill. Sharing work with each other and giving and getting comments from our peers, is rewarding and productive. The more people with whom work is shared, the more beneficial it can be to the students’ writing. The fear of putting work out into the world is outweighed, in my opinion, by the great reward of experience and enhancement. Writing skills are life long, so any chance to improve on them is a success. I’m delighted to share my work and receive feedback from my peers, because it will help me grow. My first goal for this course is to overcome any reservations I have about presenting my work with others 

The choice of what we write about is another decision that carries risks and rewards in any class. The writing prompts found in the syllabus leave the choices up to the writer. Professor McCoy wrote in the syllabus , “You have considerable leeway in interpreting the epigraph and focusing your essay,”  under the prompt for the final reflection essay. Being able to have a choice in what you’re writing about, as opposed to extremely limiting essay prompts, is both a risk and reward choice for students. This requires students to think critically, analyze important texts, and be able to form their own arguments and opinions to write about. Developing the skills to navigatie the process of  creating, and writing assignments with no direction, is another objective of mine for this course. Perhaps the most notable decisions students will make during this course is self-assessment. Students will have to honestly judge themselves and their work. I think this is a skill everyone should have and practice. For some, it may feel odd to assess their own growth because they may feel biased, and be too hard or easy on themselves. It can be very difficult to calibrate when it comes to yourself. But the more accurately you can assess yourself, the better for you. That’s why practicing self assessment is another goal of mine this semester. 

 Reading Bloodchild by Octavia  E. Butler helped me to create several goals for me  this semester. The short story got me thinking about decisions, choices, and the risks or rewards that can come with taking any class. As with the decision making that Gan must face in Bloodchild, students must make choices when part of a college community.  My goals are to work on developing strong writing skills that will help me long after this course. I would like to be able to confront situations where I have to use my analytical skills, apply feedback to my work,  and be able to confidently share work with peers. I care about meeting my goals because it will help me reach the rewards I seek. 

The skies the limit, but its your choice how to get there

When thinking about the word “preserve” in a physical sense many things come to mind. One of those ideas could be a country preserve. When thinking of a country preserve you may think of a large piece of land, possibly even hundreds of acres of land, where there is a large family of sorts with many responsibilities that need to be taken care of on the land. The family may all stay there together due to the fact if someone leaves then the others need to do his or her jobs. But on the preserve there are limits on what you can do due to the fact that you have jobs to do. Going into the community and enjoying things outside of your land can be hard and it sets a bar on what you can do. 

Now, while thinking of the word preserve in the context of a space where you can make decisions, this course is very similar to the idea of a country preserve. In this writing seminar the student is allowed to express their thoughts on the topic of the essay in any way they can. While sitting down with the professor of the class, Beth McCoy, she explained how we have an enormous amount of freedom on our hands, but the restrictions tend to be very specific. 

A simple way of thinking about why a class could be a “preserved” space is in the physical way we type papers. This class makes it possible to put all your thoughts on papers which is a way of making your choices possible, but on the other hand there is a minimum amount of words you need to write for the paper. This is a simple limitation but if a student were to have a short idea that is very well thought out and he doesn’t feel any other way about the prompt it could potentially create a worst essay due to the fact that he is pushing himself to write even more words on the page. The limitation of having a word count does have a positive outcome in some cases due to the fact that it pushes the student to go deeper into his idea which can turn this into a personal choice to extend your idea to another level.

When thinking about Octavias Butler work “blood child” the terrans can be described as a group of people that are in a preserved space. This space is a safe place run by the Tlic but as long as the terrans follow simple rules then they can live there with no problem. The reason why this can be compared to college is that college is a preserved space that can give us power for the future but also has many limitations. In both college and the space in the book the place where students and terrans are great, however there are not many other options. For the terrans if they were not in this preserve then they would be realized to the rest of the planet which is unsafe. When leaving college there are really only 3 options a 18 year old can do, which is military, college/trade school, or entrepreneurship. College is the safest bet to make enough money for a comfortable and safe life.

The idea of a mutual agreement is when 2 groups split each of their ideas and come up with an agreement that fits both their needs and wants. In “Blood Child” the terrans and Tlic have a mutual agreement about the living save on the preserve however the Tlic have an upper hand in this agreement. The terrans invaded the Tlic and now the Tlic have control of the terrans in many ways. For example, in the beginning of the book, Gan explains how he went to get his father’s gun. He explains how the terrans weren’t allowed to have guns but his dad had hidden one a while back just in case. This shows that the tlic have control because if the terrans wanted to fight back they wouldn’t be able to. This reminds me of college due to the fact that the student and professor should have a mutual agreement which is do the best you can so the student can get good grades, but the student does not grade the teacher bit the teacher grades the student. In a way professors can be compared to the tlic because they can control what the student gets on his gradebook.

Another way that this class can create a “preserved space” is the way you can push yourself as an individual. In the syllabus for INTD 105 Beth Mccoy states that we have only “self assessed assignments” which is something kids in college and high school never have experienced. At first a student or outside adult may think it is absurd that a class that counts for your GPA is self assessed however you can not judge the freedom of this until you experience it. At first,yes, I did believe that I could coast through this classand give myself a 4.0, but when I started having conversations with professor Mccoy about writing these essays I realized that I enjoyed doing the work for this class. Since there is so much freedom when writing you can really put your best thoughts on paper and not need to worry about writing to the graders rubric. Being able to grade your own papers helps make you realize that your writing is a part of you.

One other example that makes your choice possible in a Preserved space is using citations. Plagiarism is a huge problem in college and a lot of the time it is due to the fact that kids simply forget or do not know how to citate. In this assignment rubric professor Mccoy states “You may/may not be English majors, and so I’m not asking you to follow my specific disciplinary conventions about citation.” This is a great simple way of showing how a student can make choices possible but can also create a limit. There is a simple limit being the need for citation, however it is the student’s choice in how he would like to cite his evidence.

Self assessment actually gives the class a sense of self pride and accomplishment as well. A Lot of times students appreciate teachers giving feedback but they almost never appreciate a teacher giving them a bad grade. In a self assessed class the teacher will make you correct and edit your mistakes which is a limit but it’s also a way of making your own choice because you decide how you want to change it. 

Within a space that allows a student to create his own choices with limitations critical questioning is something that can change in this environment. In this setting a student can really think of what he wants to know and since there are very limited limitations on learning the student can dive into the concept he is studying and ask any type of questions he would like on this concept. The negative is that the student may get off track about questioning the idea and forget that he needs to understand the topic.                                 

Goal setting rewrite, tying in Bloodchild

College is a place where you get to know yourself and who you want to be in life. The campus life and people around you aid to shape your aims and ambitions. Any college class you take, whether required for your major or completely voluntary will also shape your experiences. Each course comes with risks and rewards that all depend on how much time and effort you put forth. College courses and college in general can be compared to, according to Dr. McCoy, a “preserve”, a space wherein power both makes choices possible and sets limits on them. Using the term preserve we can compare risks and rewards of online learning to those in Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”.

Nothing could come close to preparing you for a real college class. In high school they try to mimic the course load or teaching styles to introduce you to them ahead of time, but even AP classes do not compare. These courses you take are impossible to do well in if you do not manage your time or put in the effort. The first day of class you are given a syllabus which tells you all the goals and requirements in the course. INTD 105 risks and rewards of academic partnership is a course that introduces students to college level persuasive writing and reading. Your professor is the one that comes up with what you read, discuss, and write about, this could be the limit set on the coursework. You must stay within certain guidelines to get the grade that you want and/or deserve. According to the syllabus for INTD 105 all students should be able to “read significant texts carefully and critically, recognizing and responding to argumentative positions”. Whether this is an article or a video, you need to be able to thoroughly understand your source in a way that makes it second nature proving your point. Although you do not get to choose your topic, the prompt can be interpreted in multiple ways, so there is no way you can get it “wrong”.

Just as I was not prepared for the work and time needed to complete a college course, Gan was not prepared for his future. Though two completely different subjects, we were both told about these plans, but nothing compared to when we were put in that situation. Gan had been told his whole life that using his body as a host was “a good and necessary thing Tlic and Terran did together – a kind of birth” (Bloodchild, 9). It was not until he witnessed someone in the role of “host” that he understood the reality of the situation. He knew that birth was “bloody and painful, no matter what” but what he witnessed was worse than that. Words do not have the same effect as experiences.

Something new that affects our semester is online learning which has come with more risks than rewards. Academic partnership is hard to achieve when you cannot have conversation face to face. Although the face to face conversation is halted, seeing others posts and finding that my classmates opinions differ from mine increases my thinkING.  I find it very difficult to fully engage in online courses, including this one. Instead of courses giving me a great deal of interest, they seem to drag on when I must do all the teaching myself online. I cannot think of many rewards that come with learning online other than the fact that it makes me slow down and do everything at my own pace. Gan was not ready for his reality just as I was not prepared for college, especially online learning.

There is so much potential to grow in INTD 105, which is what I love about the course. Even with guidelines and limits made, you decide how well you do in the course. “Assignments for which you will receive feedback and offer feedback are ungraded assignments”, this takes the pressure off making the essay perfect and puts more pressure on making it so that you can spark a conversation. Including multiple check-ins within the course you can make goals and assess if you have met them or not after spending more time in the class. The feedback that I have been received is incredibly helpful in my goal making process and for fixing problems in my future essays.

Considering the limits placed on me in this course as well as the rewards I can obtain, I have come up with a few goals for myself. I would like to take my time to enjoy the readings that we do so that I can engage more in my writings. Dr. Beth McCoy’s extensive feedback makes having the course online tolerable, knowing that she and the class care about overall growth in the course and not just a number grade. I need to learn how to support my arguments more and stick to the prompt, which hopefully will come with more practice writing. I feel as though if I enjoy the course and learn from my mistakes in my essays I can accept that this course is one that will have shaped me for my future in college and beyond.