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 or refuge. The common ground of the partnership between Gan and T’Gatoi, the partnership between the students of INTD 105-04 and Professor Beth McCoy, and any partnership in general, is built on a foundation of trust. Alongside trust are its risks and rewards, and its responsibilities.
The conditional trust 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 partnership 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 in their 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 an N’Tlic – 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. To love someone is also to risk heartbreak. To promise or to be promised something is also to risk a promise broken. 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 this course. The first is to become accustomed to the sense of independence in writing through self-assessment in order to become a dependable judge of character of myself and others. To accomplish this would require that I would be honest to myself about my own work, for it is in my hands now to recognize any error or (harmful) carelessness in my writing. However, self-criticism cannot be taken too far lest it becomes something that would be detrimental to personal growth. To be overly critical or overly lenient 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?”
However, the benefits and purpose of self-grading policy would be rendered useless if I, or any student in general, did not care for the responsibilities that come with it. At any point in time, should Gan ever decided to shirk his responsibility of keeping his family safe as his eldest brother Qui had, then he has his sister and T’Gatoi’s trust to lose – T’Gatoi, who “stood between [him and his family] and her own people, protecting, interweaving”, who chose to give Gan the benefit of doubt. (Butler 29) It was his responsibility, according to his mother, to take care of T’Gatoi in return. Like Gan who demonstrates accountability in one instance where he felt guilt for inadvertently hurting her, as a student of Professor McCoy, it is my job to hold myself responsible for my actions in this course.