The risks and rewards in INTD105

Throughout this semester, in the class The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnerships we returned to the main themes of our course epigraph. This epigraph is from the short story “Bloodchild”, written by Octavia E. Butler, “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is a risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” I believe that is a great quote to outline what INTD 105 is all about.

Dr. Beth McCoy, separated this class into different modules, showing the different aspects of the class: Foundations in Good Faith, Implicit Bias, Rules for Partnership, and Harm, Repair, Care. Originally I did not notice that the class had these different modules, I did not really understand the point of a few of the lessons we had. For example, the discussion of rules for students, I was confused about why I needed to read the code of conduct originally, not understanding what this had to with the class. I realized that day that the whole class had these modules and this discussion was the first in the Rules for Partnership module. It made sense to me all of a sudden, The SUNY Geneseo code of conduct IS the rules for academic partnership. This discussion was there to show us the rules that we need to abide by when we are here taking classes at SUNY Geneseo. When we are taking a class where we discuss the risks and rewards of academic partnership, reading and learning the rules is a great way to discover more of the risks we have as a student. Having the different modules to show us the meaning of everything we learn is very helpful. These modules are the best way to prove that this class is really teaching us everything we need to know in regards to the syllabus and in reference to the epigraph.

The epigraph was another concept that I did not necessarily understand at first. While reading the syllabus originally and before  reading “Bloodchild”,  I did not understand what the quote meant. I thought to myself “what does Gatoi mean?”,and  “what does ‘if we’re not your animals’ mean?” I kept these questions in my mind while reading the short story, I knew that eventually I would understand the concept. 

Slowly, my questions started to become answered. I realized that Gatoi is a shortened version of the name of one of the main characters and that the concept of animals is to do with the different species in this book, the differences between the humans versus the tilc, meaning the alien race. When I got to the quote in “Bloodchild” that is the course epigraph, I was really excited, this was the quote, finally. I will now understand what is so important about this quote, a quote that Dr. McCoy believed was important enough to be a reflection of this course as a whole. Immediately, I underlined it and wrote on a sticky note the things that I found so important about it.

My initial thought was that the quote has the name of the class in it. It specifically says “There is a risk Gatoi, in dealing with a partner”, that is really the whole point of a class that is called The Risks and Rewards of Academic partnership, highlighting the risks side of things. This quote emphasises the point that there will be risks in having a partner and we have to decide whether to take the risk or not. I also like the part that says “if these are adult things”, to me this shows that as we grow up, and become adults, we need to take these risks and do the things that may seem risky at first, but also have a pay off. 

This course epigraph did an amazing job at outlining the content that is provided in this class. Each module represents a new message that Dr. McCoy is trying to convey to us, the students, about the epigraph and about the risks and rewards of academic partnership. The first module, foundations in good faith, was there for us to learn about others intentions. When working with a partner, knowing their intentions is a very important thing. Both parties need to mutually have good faith and good intentions. The good faith is what makes the risks seem less scary. You both need to trust each other and listen to each other. This is shown in the story “Bloodchild”. Both T’Gatoi and Gan have to trust that the other has good faith. Gan has to trust that he is not in danger when carrying T’Gatoi’s eggs and T’Gatoi has to trust that Gan will not shoot her with the gun that he is not allowed to have in the first place. The next module is Implicit Bias, which means different stereotypes that affect the way we see other people and is mostly subconscious. I believe that we had this module because we need to understand our implicit biases and try our best to fight them when we notice them, or actively try to get rid of them. This is important in the risk of dealing with a partner because both parties may have an implicit bias about the other and it may affect how they work together. When you learn about your implicit biases, it can help you recognize your own and maybe eliminate them all together, getting rid of that risk. The next module that Dr. McCoy added is Rules for Partnership. This module helped us recognize the rules that us, as students, have when attending SUNY Geneseo. Adding to the list of risks that we face when dealing with a partner, rules are a big one. Both parties have to have rules in order for the rewards to have the greatest impact. Rules are ways to set limitations and boundaries so you can have a greater trust in each other and relly insure that both parties have good faith. In many situations, rules are important for structure and security. The last module is Harm, Repair, Care. This module focused mainly on the Novel From Here to Equality, Written by William A. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen. This novel shows the difficulties that Black Americans have faced from salvery to the present. This novel does an amazing job showing the harm that these people have had to go through for thousands of years and what we need to do to repair all of that harm. I found this to show the partnership between people of color and white people in america, and what the abuse of power caused. This showed me that with harm comes much repair and care to fix what has been done, and in the case of black americans, we still need more repair everyday. 

The course epigraph was a perfect quote to go along with this class. Dr. McCoy used all of the modules to ensure that her students understood the meaning of this class and of the risks and rewards of academic partnership, and any other partnership. 

The Possibilities and Limits of a Self-Assessed Class (rewrite)

In many college writing classes I get assigned an essay to write and the professor gives me my grade based on what he or she considers is the standard for writing. This standard could be different for every professor though. However, when I grade myself, the standard is mostly up to me and I get to decide what I consider meets that standard.

Self-assessed classes can be very freeing and less restrictive than other classes where I am getting graded by the teacher based on the teacher’s beliefs and standards. In this type of class I can decide myself what I have earned. Of course, I can lie and say I deserve an A when I put in little to no effort, but that could lead to not getting anything out of the class. I can also work extra hard and create high standards for myself to meet and learn a lot more that I would have.

In the class The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership, taught by Dr. Beth McCoy, I am able to assess myself based on the rubric by Dr. McCoy. This rubric is to measure my care for my course accountability, care for my growth and care for my peer’s growth. The rubric is something that comes along with assessing myself, though as long as I show care and effort I should earn the grade I want.Though, others may see the rubric as something that limits them, in my opinion, having the rubric is not a restriction, but more something to help us guide us through and get something out of the class. 

Although self-assessment has many positives, there are also some risks that are involved. In a traditional classroom, where professors give me the grade that they think is the most suitable for me, there is an incentive to try hard and get the best grade possible, when assessing myself, that incentive can go away. Suddenly, all of the will to try hard is on me. I have to decide what my standards are. I can have extremely low standards and put little to no effort in, which is fine, but will I really be getting much out of that class? Later in life when I have to work hard or apply the skills I should have learned in the class, I can’t. When I do not put in hard work into a class I can’t learn from it.

On the other hand, I can set really high standards for myself and work as hard in that class as I would for any other class I take. Self-assessment could work really well when the student actually works hard. In this case, the student has freedom to be as creative as they want and write in their own style. As long as they apply themselves, and grow in the class, they get the grade they deserve. 

After every essay I write in The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership, Dr. Beth McCoy gives me feedback on what she liked and what I can still improve on. This can be very helpful to the student who wants to get something out of this class. If the student has very high expectations for themselves, they can take Dr. McCoy’s advice and really use it to grow and learn. Although, if I am only doing the assignments because I feel I have to, and not to get anything out of it, these comments will not do anything for me at all. They can only help me if I want them to help me.

I have found Dr. McCoy’s feedback to be very helpful. Through her feedback, I have been able to improve my writing with every essay I write. I am also able to revise my writings to make them better and really learn through my mistakes. So far, I have learned to slow down my writing and really express what I am thinking. I know that by the end of the class I can improve immensely through applying myself and listening to her feedback.

In The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership, we read the short story “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler. There are many comparisons you can make to this story and this class. In “Bloodchild”, the characters live in a preserve on another planet run by aliens. On this planet, humans are used as carriers for the alien’s eggs and are forced to undergo a birthing process that may be fatal. The aliens and humans must create a trust with each other in order to live and work together. This is similar to the relationship between the professor and student. A student must trust that the professor knows what they are doing and is guiding them through the right path. The professor must trust that the student is being honest and putting in as much effort into their work as they are showing. Another comparison is that restriction of having to carry and birth the eggs is similar to the restriction of the rubric. The humans are free to live on their planet rent free but the one catch is that they have to carry the eggs, similar to how the students in a self-assessed class have the freedom to grade themselves but the restriction of the rubric.

Although some may jump at the chance to take a self-assessed class, others may decide that it is not for them. They may realize that they don’t have the discipline for it or they may just not want the pressure to be all on them. Some may also decide that they do not like the restriction of having a rubric to follow when they are assessing themselves. That is why taking a self-assessed course can be both very freeing and very restricting at the same time.