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. 

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