KEep Asking Why

Going into this class, I believed that it was going to be like every other writing class I had been forced to take over the years. My previous writing classes could have been better as we broke down different writing styles and just wrote continuous essays on rather pointless topics. However, I would find this class much different and defy my expectations. Our course epigraph from Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” says, “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.”. At first, it was unclear how this quote would navigate our thinking through this course but upon reflection at the end of the year, it has become quite apparent. Looking back upon my work I believe that the course epigraph forms through line for the work I’ve had the opportunity to engage in this semester. This quote has helped me navigate the idea that I am no longer a child living in this world but instead, an adult who can ask more questions and think deeper. 

At the beginning of this class, we wrote an essay that discussed what we believed we would get out of the class as well as what we thought we could bring to the table. I treated this first essay like I treated the rest of my previous writing classes and that was without much care or thought behind the words I was writing. I was trying to just get words onto a paper to complete an assignment instead of thinking deeper about the assignment and asking questions. This led to a lot of my thoughts being disconnected and completely unstructured. Instead of taking time to think deeper and have a plan for my writing, I would just write any idea that came to my mind. The advice I received from this essay was to slow down and unpack and although Dr. McCoy iterated that these were common words of advice at the beginning of a semester I still found them incredibly helpful. This advice helped me come to an understanding that not everyone in the world interprets things the same way. This was something that I already knew but I don’t think I understood the magnitude to which this was true. 

This was pointed out to me when Dr. McCoy asked what it was I meant when I said an “ordinary class” because while this was something that was clearly outlined in my brain I failed to understand that others had a different view. This helped me understand that I needed to think about things deeper and ask more out of myself. Applying this to the real world and not just my writing became a goal of mine which I think was really beneficial. Using this sort of deeper thinking I was able to start asking questions that I previously would have never thought of. I was able to practice this deeper thinking in my lecture classes. I found that when I was able to just sit and listen to someone speak it was easier to think of deeper questions and continuously ask why. I would either relay these questions to my professor or would look it up on my laptop but either way I would leave the class with a better understanding of the topic. I specifically remember sitting in my humanities class while the professor was discussing writing around the time of the French Revolution. When I would normally just sit there mindlessly listening I instead found myself scouring the web for different things about the French Revolution to gain an understanding of what was going on at that time. This allowed me to develop a better idea of what the author was thinking along with a better understanding of the writing we were working with as a whole. It was these types of things that this new thinking opened me up to. 

This idea of deeper thinking along with the class epigraph helped drive my final rewrite for my “Bloodchild” essay. Using the feedback from my first essay I was able to narrow down my thoughts and have one clear concise idea drive my essay, instead of an unorganized essay filled with a handful of ideas. This allowed me to go into further detail since I could put all of my thoughts and explanations into this one idea rather than trying to divide it up over multiple ideas. This idea that I was able to focus on was the idea that in my opinion college is not often how it has been described to people. I was able to come to this idea through deep thinking to go along with some reflection within myself. A line that I used in this essay was “College sounded like an extension of childhood filled with fun but it is the end of childhood filled with responsibilities and discomfort.” I believe that this quote sums up my idea for the essay. This is a conclusion that I was able to make through the guide of the course epigraph. I had to come to an understanding within myself that although college is known for its fun there is also a ton of responsibility to go with it as well as a ton of risks. The responsibility of taking care of yourself is something that I had the luxury of being oblivious to. My parents had helped me every step of the way to get to college but once I was here there was only so much they could do. I feel as though this was something that was rarely touched upon when I would have conversations regarding college with those I knew who had gone to or were in college. There was always discussion on how college would be the greatest years of my life but everyone failed to mention the multitude of risks associated with it. Through this process, I have learned that only good things happen when you continuously ask questions. I wonder if I had been introduced to this way of thinking before college if I would have asked more questions and perhaps been more skeptical of college as a result. All in all, the course epigraph helped mold the idea for my final “Bloodchild” essay as I expressed my concern for gaining more knowledge about college and asking tougher questions than perhaps we are. I will make sure that I attempt to spread this kind of knowledge whenever I can and whenever I am asked. Moving forward, I’d like to try and encourage others to allow themselves to engage in this type of thinking so they could further improve their lives. 

Nothing I can do will change the past, only the future which is why I must continue this way of expanded thinking through this next chapter in my life. Accepting that the past cannot be changed, I am forced to move forward with a more open-minded perspective, forming the next phase of my life. I am free to focus my energy on the possibilities of the future because I realize it is pointless to worry about things that cannot be altered. This dedication to broadening my thinking serves as my compass, directing decisions in my life that have the most thought behind them.

Final-Self Reflection

By: Ian Delpha

At the beginning of this year, coming in as a freshman to SUNY Geneseo, I really didn’t know what to expect. There was a lot of uncertainty on whether I would really like it here, if I would like the classes I chose, along with a whole lot more. Although, when I signed up for this class and read what it was going to be on, I had an excitement towards my first day. I didn’t really know what the idea of Risks, Rewards, and Rent-Paying were quite yet but knew it would be something I would enjoy compared to the other ones. I thought that this class would be able to carry over into my concepts of being a Business Administration major and be beneficial to those classes as well. Coming into the first day of class, I soon realized this would be a class I knew I would like but would also challenge me. We have done many things in this class like learning about “They Say / I Say”, talking about the themes and ideas within Bloodchild, group discussions and debates, working on our writing, and just everyday class tasks that have all tied into one another throughout the course.

The first thing we really focused on this semester was “They Say / I Say” which had a lot of lessons. The main ones that I really took away and incorporated into my writing throughout the rest of the semester was the idea of the “bouncy ball” method. This shows the idea of putting the “I Say” statement which is the opinions of yourself and what you think together with the “They Say” side of it, which is what others opinions are, and having it flow all together. This allows for less ideas bouncing off one another and making it hard for the reader to understand and instead allowing them to flow to it. This also has helped me with the idea of slowing down in my writing. Sometimes in my writing, I tend to get my ideas down and what I want to say but lack the explanation needed for the reader to understand. I forget that the reader doesn’t already know what I know on the topic so being able to really dive deep into your writing and provide explanations and information following your ideas can completely transform how your writing sounds and the clarity it has for the reader. It adds more flow and understanding to your piece and allows the reader to enjoy the reading rather than being confused or left hanging on certain parts of the writing.

The middle part of the year had a major focus on “Bloodchild” and I would say this was the hardest part of the semester for me. It was challenging because I am not always great at diving deeper into meanings and this required a lot of that so it pushed me to become better at it. The biggest part of this section was our Bloodchild Essay which we spent a lot of time on. In this essay, I focused on relating the concepts in Bloodchild of the Terrans, which are the humans getting forced to move to the land of the Tlic, which are alien-like creatures, due to persecution of them on Earth. They had to adapt to this new life and I compared this to myself coming to Geneseo as a student-athlete and having to adapt to all the changes thrown my way. After writing my draft there were definitely some changes that could be made that were mentioned in my feedback that would really help my essay. The one major one which I mentioned above was slowing down. I tried to fit too much information into my writing without explaining it thoroughly and clearly. Also, it just gives the reader too much to pay attention to and makes the writing confusing with no flow. The way I fixed this was by choosing one of the topics I discussed and making it the main idea of the entire essay. I choose to just talk about the life of student-athletes and how it could be compared to the life of the Terrans in Bloodchild. This really helped out my essay and made it become much more developed. The new phase in my life of being a student-athlete here at Geneseo was a big new step and came with a lot of uncertainty. Factors like would I like the school, would I like my teammates, could I find a balance between school, lacrosse, and social life, and just if it would be too much overall. I had to adapt to these new changes in my life relatively quickly as it all came at me very fast. This can be related to how the Terrans in Bloodchild felt as well. They had to leave from the place they have known for so long, the Earth, and move to the preserve of the Tlics all very fast. Not knowing what it would be like or if they would be accepted there was something they had to think about but overcome and adapt to as well. As you can see, these two topics were able to be related to one another very well but also can be related to this course. The ignorance I had coming into this class due to a lack of knowledge about the course and what it would entail is the same ignorance T’Gatoi had going to the preserve and myself coming to play lacrosse here. This shows that not only are these themes good to learn about in the novel but can be applied to everyday life in many more ways than you may think.

This next part of the class was something that we would do throughout the entire year and were probably the most beneficial things we did in my opinion. These were the group discussions. We would usually be in a circle around the room or sometimes in small groups and we would talk about whatever thing we were focusing on at that time. This gave people the opportunity to express their ideas on things and give other people the opportunity to give feedback. This contributed to a lot of the learning I got in this class because when you are talking and discussing the concepts we are learning with class, it opens up new perspectives and allows you to gain new understandings about a topic that you may not have had before. This part was a huge factor in helping my writing as well. Since we did a lot of writing in this class, sometimes only seeing it through your own perspective can be limiting to yourself and it is better to get other perspectives on it. Being able to do peer-reviews was one of the most important things for me. One because it allows your paper to get a new set of eyes and give feedback on it but also because when you read other people’s writing, this allows you to get more ideas that may benefit your paper as well. This is why I think it is one of or if not the most important parts of the writing process that we had.

Overall, I really enjoyed the things we did in this class and felt that I have learned a lot that can be applied into other aspects of my life. Being able to make these connections from Bloodchild and apply it to my life here at Geneseo has already been very helpful. It shows me the ways I have adapted so far and how I will continue to do so. It shows that although change may be scary, it is inevitable and is something that you need to learn to accept and deal with throughout your life. The time spent in this class has taught me so much more than just the writing and speaking skills that will carry me through life but the actual life lessons that will stay with me the most. I am very happy I chose to take this class and can see the difference it has made so far in my time here at college in this first semester. Being able to have a class like this made the transition go so much smoother and I know the things I have learned in this class will be applied to the rest of my classes throughout my time here at Geneseo and even into my career in the future.

Expectations, reality, and predictions for college

Alex Stayoch INTD 105

Final Self-Reflection Due 12/9/23


As this semester is wrapping up (my first semester of college), I now know what I expected to happen this semester, what did happen, and more of what I can expect for the future. Over the semester I gained a lot of knowledge in this course, in other courses, and in college so far in general. Not just facts, but I also learned more about myself after spending time without the guidance of my family at every step of the way.


When I came into college I expected that I would have a lot of work to do. In this class specifically, I expected to have a lot of writing to do, but that I would also develop writing skills and become a better writer. The social expectations that I had from college would be that there would be a lot of partying, new friends, and a lot of homesickness. But I was also worried that I would have trouble making new friends, because I haven’t really made many new friends on my own since elementary school. In high school, I had known my entire main friend group in elementary school, and the only way I met people was if one of my friends introduced me to them. I also was very intrigued to see how life with a roommate would be because I lived alone in a large room for the past 8 years and hadn’t lived with a roommate since my brother and I bunked together when I was 12 (and I really hated that at the time, although now I don’t think I would mind being a roommate with my brother).


As the semester went on, I came to realize that some assumptions I made were true and some were not. I have had a lot of work (much more than high school) but I also have much more time to get it done because I don’t spend 7 hours a day in school, I don’t spend 3 hours a day between sports games/practices/watching siblings play, and I don’t work for 4 hours a day. This class had a perfect amount of writing in my opinion, not enough to where I was overworked, but not too little to where I felt that there was so much time in between two writings that I would become rusty. I also felt that I became a better writer over the course of this class, not only because I take the they say into account, but when brainstorming for a writing I actually plan my thoughts out in a more organized way (I especially noticed this when planning out my “Bloodchild” rewrite) instead of just winging it as I usually would. In terms of partying I would say that it isn’t hard to party if you want, and I know people who do 2-3 times a week, but I personally think it’s nice to go to one every other week or so. I have made a lot of new friends so when there is nothing to do it is really easy for me to find something to do which also helps me from being alone. It’s not really that hard to find friends as a freshman, because everyone is looking for them. I also surprisingly didn’t get very homesick even though I have an amazing family, and some amazing friends back home. This is partly due to me keeping in touch with them via FaceTime or phone call, partly because I’m always busy here, and partly because my friends here are great.

Epigraph and more reality

As Gan says in “Bloodchild” by Octavia “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” One large change in my life is that I now have a roommate, and there are risks and rewards of me having a roommate. In this case my partner is my roommate, and the risks are that I never really have any time alone to myself. Everyone likes to be alone sometimes, and with a roommate who is always in the room it is hard to find time alone. There are rewards though, and the reward is that I’m never alone. Not only is this a risk but it is also a reward, and having someone to be able to talk to at any moment is nice. Also one problem I had at home was that I would just lay in bed alone with my thoughts for hours instead of getting sleep. Now the faint sound of my roommates TikTok’s or Xbox controller provide a nice distraction from my own thoughts allowing me to sleep better (surprisingly). There are also risks and rewards of having a partner in this INTD 105 class. Frequently in this class we were paired with another classmate or multiple who are my “partner(s)” in this case, and asked to discuss something or write something together. A large risk in this is having a partner who does not contribute or talk and forces you to initiate all conversation or do most of the work. But rewards to this include better conversations/writings due to multiple brains being better than one, better understanding of your work due to the ability of one person to help another understand, and you could even build a friendship (or get to know someone better at least).

Future expectations

Based on my experiences over the first semester, I have a better idea of what my next 3 and a half years in college will look like. I expect things to be mostly the same as the first semester. I do see my workload increasing over the course of time, and maybe my friend group changes around. But for the most part I think I already have a good idea of what the rest of my college experience will look like (obviously I could easily be very wrong).


Going into any situation in life, you are going to have expectations of what it is going to be like. College is no different. My expectations were right and wrong, but overall I think my experience has been good and better than I expected. I think I learned a lot in all my classes, and from the rest of my college experience. In this INTD 105 class specifically I think I got the most out of it that I personally could have, from learning, gaining a few small friendships, improving my writing, and thinking a bit differently about a few things (ie: ungrading). Just like how every situation has expectations, every situation in life helps you learn, grow, and can help you become prepared for future situations. My first semester has helped me know more about what is going on for the rest of college, and helped me know more about what may be going on after college.

Risking it for the Greatest Reward, Higher Knowledge!

            This class has been challenging for me in a lot of ways, and because of this I have gained a lot from my experience here. Regarding the course epigraph, I did feel responsible for determining the success of my own learning. How I was going to respond to the risks associated with the class was entirely up to me, and this challenged me to stay engaged and continuously try to find ways to bring more to my learning. At times, I found myself falling, and ultimately it was my own decision to bring myself back into action. This is not to say I didn’t have help from instructors and classmates, but the preface was on me to determine my own pathway.

             The story of Bloodchild by Octavia Butler emphasized some of the vulnerabilities that came to me during my own process with ungrading. I felt like Gan during his birth during the earlier stages of the class: a lot was expected of myself but I wasn’t exactly sure what that was. As I went on, I began to understand the objectives of the class better, and I realized that I needed the time practicing. Especially towards the end of the course I began to piece things together and see a direct correlation between the time I put in and how much I was ‘getting it’, meaning that I was moving along well. Collaborative work became less of a chore and more of an opportunity to exchange ideas and get a better understanding of what was going on in the minds of my peers. This was a really good gauge of my success with the course, as when I was more involved in the collaborative process I was also providing deeper responses to the tasks at hand. I found out that my ability to consider different viewpoints was actually a huge contributor to the quality of my personal work.

            Gan experiences a sense of internal panic when he sees what is really expected of him, the risk that he must take on. Gan finds out from seeing a birth go wrong with Bram Lomas that things may not be as easy for him as expected. This is further reinforced from a story by her older brother, Qui, just moments later. This story causes Gan to fall deeper into a state of emotional panic, knowing that a birth soon awaits him. Qui explains that he spied, undetected, on a Tlic-Terran birth, saying, “He was in so much pain, he told her to kill him. He begged her to kill him. Finally, she did. She cut his throat. One swipe of one claw. I saw the grubs eat their way out, then burrow in again, still eating.” His words made me see Lomas’s flesh again, parasitized, crawling. “Why didn’t you tell me that?” I whispered.” Gan’s reaction shows the PTSD he has just recently experienced. It also indicates that he wishes that he would have been told the whole story of the Tlic birthing process beforehand. Entering the class, I felt like I had an idea of what was expected of me, but in all reality I hadn’t really processed the guidelines yet. I didn’t know that I was going to be getting myself into a process that would challenge me to think in ways that I was very much unused to thinking in. When it set in what was going to be expected of me, I pulled back and had to pep myself back into the material. I’m glad that these feelings occurred intermittently as I gradually became aware of all the class would have to offer, rather than having it be put on me all at once like Gan would have to deal with.

            The most rewarding part of the class for me was the intellectual conversations we had as a class. Bloodchild is an abstract piece of writing, and this is right up my alley. I remember we envisioned what the Tlic would look like and focused on the imagery that Butler looked to generate. A lot was left to interpret which really got the imagination going. The story also laid out some difficult concepts, such as dealing with birth and power dynamics. This was rewarding to me because it took the thinking to different places that I wouldn’t go in other classes. It didn’t get boring so quickly since the subject was about real world issues that matter. The story somehow felt very real even though it is considered fiction. I think the concepts from the story rain true and reflect in real life. For example, Butler explores feelings of humiliation through the character of Lien, Gan’s mother. Lien feels immense shame since she can not do anything to protect her son from the cruel risks of giving birth. Therefore, she is unable to show Gan the love he deserves. Gan contemplates this, “I would like to have touched my mother, shared that moment with her. She would take my hand if I touched her now. Freed by the egg and the sting, she would smile and perhaps say things long held in. But tomorrow, she would remember all this as a humiliation. I did not want to be part of a remembered humiliation. Best just be still and know she loved me under all the duty and pride and pain.” This reminds me of an example of drug addiction in our world. Someone may be so troubled by the burden they put on themselves, that they are unable to show their true feelings. In a short moment of elation, they may be able to overcome that, only to return to a troubled mind shortly thereafter. This can be really tough for someone that loves them, since they may not feel like the sentiments shared in this moment are real, or like in Gan’s case, they don’t want them to ‘wake up’ to regret them. With Gan though, he is happy just to see his mother’s underlying feelings, which he feels are real. She is on the egg, which in their world produces a sense of euphoria and lowers inhibitions. Gan must have some underlying connection with his mother to see that when she discloses these feelings she is showing her true self.

            Aside from Bloodchild, They Say I Say by Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff helped to provide some practical guidelines for writing. The part of this piece I found most useful was the examples that accompanied every chapter. I found this helped to stimulate my writing as it gave my ideas to either use the examples or think of something similar. I also enjoyed the advice about structuring how you are going to make a claim, as well as dealing with counterclaim. They suggested that it is good to adhere some to opposite views, so as to give some authenticity to your writing. They also explained that too much content in opposing claims could be counterintuitive by driving readers away from the point you are trying to make, and gave some tips for elaborating your response to these claims as a writer, making sure this became the bulk of your consideration. In Chapter 6, they say this, in regard to opposing claims, “Exactly. We are urging you to tell readers what others might say against you, but our point is that doing so will actually enhance your credibility, not undermine it. As we argue throughout this book, writing well does not mean piling up uncontroversial truths in a vacuum; it means engaging others in a dialogue or debate—not only by opening your text with a summary of what others have said, as we suggest in Chapter 1, but also by imagining what others might say against your argument as it unfolds. Once you see writing as an act of entering a conversation, you should also see how opposing arguments can work for you rather than against you.” This quote follows a main idea of the novel, which is that contradiction is not something to shy away from, and rather is something we should try to build in our writing. The idea is that writing without an adversary can often come off as writing without purpose, just as a story may lack intrigue if it does not have a villain. The best move is then, in their estimation, to present a different view and make the focus about your debate, pointing out the loopholes in a criticism before the reader even has the chance to develop it in their own mind.

            In this class, I felt rewarded by what I took away from our two main readings. The risk came with getting myself into something deep and eventually shying away from it or rejecting it, but that did not happen. I think we were able to really get into some things as a class, and I’m interested to see how the angle of this class will continue on in other classes or endeavors. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some more deep thinking and get into subjects that are even more interesting to me. And most importantly, I’m glad to have gotten through this class, and appreciate the work that we all put into it collectively, so thanks all.

Final Self-Reflection Essay 

The first year of college felt very perplexed; honestly, it had its fair share of ups and downs. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, and I made some mistakes along the way that shaped how I saw things as I had already stepped into the second year. Those mistakes were more than just hiccups; they became essential lessons in making thoughtful decisions, those of which included risks. Being a biology major while juggling academics and a job outside of school brings its own set of challenges. However, I embrace the challenges, understanding that risk-taking is an inherent part of growth. Balancing the demands of my major and job may be daunting, but the rewards are immense. My second year so far has been a great opportunity to demonstrate my commitment to my academic and professional goals. With most actions comes a risk you must take. I’ve come to learn that most actions have a risk along with it.

Throughout the semester, I faced a couple of risks, but taking this course helped me understand the world as it has been and to imagine the world as it could be as stated in the epigraph. My workload this semester has been a lot; I continued my job alongside school, balancing my work-life schedule. My daily schedule consisted of going to school from 9 am to 3 pm and then going to work from 4 pm to 9 pm. When coming back late at night from work, I often felt tired and had no energy to do my schoolwork for the day. However I needed the financial stability in my life to take care of myself living alone. Risking my over health and academics. Another risk I faced was deciding I wanted to really live on my own. I live with four friends, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to create a window for enjoyment and help when needed, but it became rather congested and not for me. I discovered over time that I enjoy my own solitude and would rather be completely independent instead of a type of independence that coexisted with others. I took it upon myself to get a new apartment. When looking for apartments I thought the process would be simpler. Whatever looks good enough get, but when actually talking to renters and touring places, I realized how snuffy renters can be and how pictures online really don’t show an apartment’s potential. 

Taking this course (INTD) has helped me better reflect on these problems when they were actively occurring. I reflected on the idea that accepting risks is an adult thing, as stated in “Blood Child,” “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” –Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild”. Ultimately, taking risks is a window of opportunity for greater rewards in life. If I hadn’t taken the risks of working hard for my stability and/or getting a new apartment, I would have never understood what this course was trying to teach me. These risks and problems I faced always happen in life. The world is based on hardships, but the world is also based on our own personal fantasies. If I had never accepted how the world has been, I would have never had the opportunity to see how It could be and to see that by taking risks. 

Gan’s experience is something I and many individuals go through. What might seem the right way of things to some may not be for you and me. The normality for some is a considerable risk for many. Like Gan wanting to insert Tlic eggs or not. Like if I wanted to go through with my work and or get a new place. Risks are scary, but there can be huge rewards or even small slices of positivity. If I had never taken the risk of balancing my work, I wouldn’t be able to live comfortably. If I had never taken the risk to set a deposit on my new apartment, I would feel constantly congested and confused about what to do in my third year. Ultimately, risk-taking is a part of adult life; it’s something you notice slowly over time, as Gan did, but you will see it soon, and it might not be so bad. 

Ultimately, the epigraph forms a thorough line for the work I’ve done. I’ve been given the guidance that helped control my thinking for this course and outside as well. I’ve recognized that in order to achieve potential rewards you have to take risks and that the rewards can be a form of rent-paying. Whether it’s me successfully securing an apartment and literally paying rent or me being able to take risks I hesitated on before, I feel as if the course helped me. I think students should gain practice in the ability to reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time because it fosters crucial skills and benefits that contribute to their overall personal and academic development. It can even help outside of the classroom in different situations.

Octavia Butler took a risk by doing something that nobody else did at the time by writing science fiction. Her reward was that she became super successful because of it. The literal aspect of rent-paying is that she paid off her mom’s mortgage. I find myself relating to Butler in a sense that I initially took this semester risk by overloading my workload but the reward I got from it was that I developed the ability to take care of myself and be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I was also able to take part in the literal aspect of rent-paying by signing a lease to an apartment. With most actions comes a risk you must take. Whether or not you choose to take that risk, risks are crucial in order to develop as a person. I now realize that the risks, rewards, and rent-paying aspects of this course don’t just apply to a classroom but apply to my experiences and daily life.

INTD105 – Subverting Expectations

INTD 105: Risks, Rewards, Rent Paying was not what I expected. Before entering the class, I’d signed up for two other INTD 105 sections that I thought I’d enjoy, both of which became unavailable in some way or another, therefore I got stuck with Risks, Rewards, Rent Paying. Not to say that I was necessarily unhappy with the position I found myself in, it just wouldn’t have been my first choice. At that point in registration, there were only a few spots open and Risk, Rewards, Rent Paying seemed like an interesting opportunity to learn about rent and money paying, something I’d been unable to learn about in high school. It might also be helpful to note that I’m not sure I had the best understanding of what INTD 105 even was as a course. The sections listed on registration had titles ranging from “Tolkein” to “Thinking about Death”. I wasn’t sure there was even really something that connected all of these courses other than they were all shoved under the INTD 105 umbrella. Either way, what was waiting for me on the other side was something I couldn’t have expected beforehand, though not any less valuable than I was anticipating.

Risks, Rewards, and Rent Paying focuses (quite fittingly) on the idea of risks and rewards in almost anything you can imagine. One of the first activities I remember doing as a class was a group activity where we all brainstormed the risks and rewards of social media and how it has affected society as a whole either negatively or positively? While not necessarily related to any of the writing we’d be doing overall, these brainstorming activities (of which there were quite a few) would be incredibly helpful down the line as they aided us in our thinking skills. Brainstorming two sides of the story, the risks and the rewards, the “they say” and the “I say” was one of the most important aspects of the class as we began reading the short story by Octavia Butler, Bloodchild. I’ll be honest in saying that the story caught me off guard when we read it through the first time. We had done some short readings on some of her more biographical/realistic work in which she talked about her experiences as a sci-fi writer. Even with this information, I still wasn’t expecting something like Bloodchild to show up in a class titled Risks, Rewards, and Rent Paying. My brain was still half-operating under the assumption that this was some sort of economics class, that later in the semester we’d learn all about how to navigate rent paying in today’s society. Bloodchild squashed that idea for me, revealing a bit about what this class actually was which somehow confused me even more. What did the alien Tlic and human-like Terrnans have to do with Risks and Rewards? The in class readings helped a bit with my understanding as the professor was careful to point out moments that were note-worthy or otherwise thought provoking and students had the opportunity to air out their questions or thoughts about the piece as we read on. Shortly after these in class readings, I began struggling through the second essay prompt of the semester, asking us to relate our experiences in college to the events contained within Bloodchild. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to connect the two as they seemed so hopelessly separate from each other. I got to thinking though and managed to form a fairly personal response that helped me move forward in the course a little more comfortably.

After completing this first essay I found the bits and pieces of the course starting to form a more complete picture in my head. Looking back on it now, the course epigraph is a perfect encapsulation of everything this class represents. Originating from the main character, Gan, in Bloodchild, the epigraph states “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” I came to realize that much of the course focused on partnerships and the risks (and rewards of course) that were contained within them. Whether it be a student’s partnership with a college and their professors, a Terrans relationship with Tlic, or a tenant’s relationship with a landlord (a connection with rent paying I was finally able to make). The early reading’s of Graff and Birkenstein’s They Say / I say began to make more sense to me as well in the context of partnerships and dealing with that “they say.”

None of this is what I expected. Risks and rewards are nothing I ever explicitly thought about in an everyday context. I’m sure subconsciously I was aware that every decision/situation had its own set of payoffs and consequences but this class had me think about it outwardly in a way I never would have thought to do otherwise. It’s a class about preparing for your own future, about using the resources available to you and carving your own path forward, always thinking about the risks and rewards you may encounter. Maybe it’s a simple concept but it’s a necessary and useful one I think for students who are new to college, even ones who may think they know what they’re doing like me. Since my first day arriving on campus I knew that I wanted my career path to be writing related, with the end goal most likely being an author writing novels in a cozy house somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And while I’d obviously thought of the risks that came along with such a career path, it wasn’t until this class when we were visited by Heather Morens from Geneseo’s Career Design Center that I was given a visual representation of one of these risks. We were shown a website called Focus2 which allowed students to explore different careers side-by-side, including a comparison of average annual income. I don’t remember the exact number, but next to some of the other science related jobs, the income from being a writer looked small. Of course I knew this wasn’t ever something I’d be doing to get rich and the visual representation of this “risk” hasn’t persuaded me from pursuing my career, but it has made me think more consciously about the risks and rewards afforded to me in my life in just about any scenario.

I think my biggest regret in relation to this class is that I wasn’t able to take it any sooner. I believe INTD:105 is a course intended for first years yet I was never really made aware of this fact so I registered as soon as I could in my sophomore year. It probably hasn’t made much of a difference but I do wonder how differently I would have navigated this first semester of my second year if I had been able to take this class as a freshman. I think everything I learned in this course is invaluable, more than I could have anticipated coming into it. Not only do I feel my essay writing has improved tenfold (helpful for a future career in writing), I also think I’m more prepared to move through college and adult life with the thought of risks and rewards floating around in the back of my head. The lesson of this class isn’t to never take any risks or avoid them at all costs, but more so that weighing the pros and the cons is important and can make or break the outcome of a lot of things. Something else I learned too is that expectations can be deceiving. The reward I got from this class was much more than anything I could have gotten from what I thought the course would be and that’s ok. Let yourself be surprised and never stop thinking about the next step forward.

Final Self-reflection essay

The course epigraph for this writing seminar, “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner,” (Octavia Butler, Bloodchild) highlights my experience through the course as I feel as though it was a prevalent overarching theme throughout the semester. Prior to attending class, I believed that the course would offer insight towards writing from an economical standpoint due to the description, “risks, rewards, and rent-paying,” when choosing my classes for the first semester. I wasn’t necessarily how thought-provoking this topic would be or if I would even enjoy it as I’ve never been much of a numbers guy. I quickly realized that the theme was not as I expected but was entirely different from what I initially perceived. This immediately shifted my perspective on the course and gave me a fresh outlook on how I should perceive information I’m given. The discussions that were sourced from the course material were very thought-stimulating which I found very enjoyable but was also disappointed in the lack of engagement often by my peers. As I remember, the professor would usually resort to calling randomly on students to participate in a discussion or read part of a story such as when we began to read “Bloodchild” and Dr.McCoy would be forced to ask someone to read as there usually were no volunteers. I felt inclined to contribute to the group discussions but generally held myself back from doing it too much as I wanted to give others the opportunity to voice their opinion. Due to the nature of the course, however, I feel as though every student was able to gain something out of this course, whether it becoming a better writer, thinker, or both. What I mean by the “nature of the course” is that the requirement to understand a question or concept and then often debate it or write about it with others causes each student to delve deeper into the topic to better understand it. A good example of this was very recent during the Collaborative Essay, in which students were separated into three groups and asked to cooperate in crafting one essay tying together the idea of upgrading and the short story “Bloodchild”. I believe this corroboration of minds and work helped us all find new insights on our own work as well as how to improve our style of writing. This also helps break down the barrier of hiding your writing to prevent others from telling you what’s wrong with it. It is very important to be able to handle and listen to criticisms in order to grow as a writer and as a person.  

My feelings preceding the course were similar to my feelings prior to my arrival upon campus. In fact, I believe that my feelings through my time in this course can shed light upon my feelings through my time in college. Before I arrived in Geneseo, I was extremely nervous about the daunting mountain I believed to be education in college but was also excited to climb it, to discover new opportunities that may have never been made previously available to me from my perspective at the foot of the hill. Very early in the course, our class had a discussion about the best way to accomplish large goals whether that be applicable to a large paper or creating a new habit. In this discussion, our instructor explained that looking at a goal should not be seen as one large leap, from A to Z, but rather taken as the many small, attainable steps in between. This idea has really resonated with me throughout my very limited time in college and now I apply it to my analogy of the aforementioned “educational mountain”. To clarify, I have dubbed this educational experience at university as a mountain as to underline the expected and very real rigor of college courses. Through my time in this course and at school, I can now see the steps being added on to this large mountain, carving a clear path towards my goal that once seemed almost impossible. I typically use this method with most of my more important or larger assignments such as this essay or when studying for a test in biology and have found that I am flourishing academically. As I previously stated, this is not only applicable to assignments for college but may also be used to create small, attainable goals for any situation. An example of this may be a person having the overarching goal of being more physically fit and in order to do this they gradually accomplish smaller goals such as eating better or increasing the volume of time spent at the gym. Because of this I feel that this lesson goes deeper than just on a college level and can greatly affect the life of a student that properly utilizes it. 

This course epigraph truly creates a potent atmosphere for deep thinkING mixed with the continuous engagement through course material into this epigraph. I believe that students enrolled in this course truly were able to practice their ability to reflect on change and learning through time. However, I don’t believe the fact that this is insisted upon by the GLOBE standards really matters in the grand scheme of things. To further unpack this statement, I believe that this should be an educational standard for all classes in every university, not just for the GLOBE classes and not just for SUNY Geneseo students. The riveting ability to create such a stimulating educational experience should be had by all those willing to learn and put in the effort. The fact that this is only subjected to so few is stunning and I believe it would be extremely beneficial for every classroom or lecture hall in the world to require students to reflect upon any changes within their learning and their outlook upon the through time. So to further explain, I don’t believe it’s important or impressive that the course accomplishes this because GLOBE says it should but rather because it accomplishes this at all as many classes or institutions tend to take a one-and-done, never-think-or-reflect-on-anything-I-just-spent- the-last-fifteen-weeks-on approach. I know this to be true as it is occurring as I am writing this essay. I find my biology class to be very bland and unengaging as I just work from unit to unit, not really bothering to reflect on what I’ve learned or care to really retain any of the content presented before me. 

To reflect, I believe the material of the course and the methods of engagement to the material produced a very thought-provoking, overarching theme to a class I had not expected it to come from. This class does this through multiple methods; the encouragement of collaboration among peers which promotes deeper understandings, the use of a self-grading system, and ability to see situations from a fresh perspective. Working with peers allows us as writers to see mistakes or improvements we would otherwise not notice as writers tend to not see the flaws in their work(Dr.McCoy). This in itself improves our writing, but goes further as to force us to think more critically about the issue and topic at hand. This positive learning environment is strengthened exponentially by the use of a self-grading policy which allows students to focus more on the feedback given by the teacher rather than allowing the “number” to fully ensnare the students’ thoughts(Stommel). On top of this, cross-referencing an idea off of the perspective from multiple authors or characters allowed us as writers to be forced to see numerous views on a singular, specific topic. This course dynamic does not matter in regards to the GLOBE standards but rather matters for what it is to the learner. Because of this, it should be incorporated in classrooms on a large-scale among all ages due to its importance to creating a complex curriculum for the student to maximize their learning in. 

Final reflection

I will be the first to admit that I am not a great reader and when I found out that the freshmen this year were given the opportunity to make their own schedules I tried to find a class that would not involve much reading. When I looked up INTD-105 classes several pages of different genres popped up and I chose Risks, Rewards, and Rent-paying. I prematurely judged this class on the basis of its name and assumed that it would be a class to do with financial decisions. My expectation of this course was that I would learn about business deals and have to write papers about them just to get an average grade because I was never the greatest writer in the world, but I was wrong. Instead it focused on interactions between people and how changing the order of what you say can have two very different outcomes. Throughout the course I became more aware of the dangers of a quick glance and became more interested to look beyond the surface.

In elementary school after I would finish my homework I would go and play with the other kids in my neighborhood and I never had a passion for reading, even when my parents would put one right in front of me. Throughout middle and high school I never found a drive to pick up a book on my own unless it was Percy Jackson. I have always unintentionally distanced myself from any sort of English related class and brought myself closer to a world involving math and science. When I discovered “Risks, Rewards, and Rent-paying” I thought I struck gold because it would be an English class that plays to my strengths.

To say I was a kid that cares about grades would be an understatement, five minutes after class ranks were released in High school I was down at the office. My obsession with my grades came from my competitiveness and always wanting to have the best grades possible that I often ignored understanding the material and learned for the wrong reasons. Several times a bad grade would send me spiraling into a frenzy about how much it would hurt my grade and if my life was over. Coming into a class that does not grade by what many people would refer to as “normal” left me in shock. I didn’t know how to excel if there was no grade given to me. In so many of my previous classes I would get upset at my English teachers because I would receive a grade that I believe I did not deserve and there was no arguing my side because there is no definitive right answer which always drove me crazy. Jesse Stommel talks about this very situation in his writing and how “ungrading can reduce conflict between teachers and students bring them closer together”(Stommel). Learning that I wasn’t alone was a huge relief and that I could focus more in my INTD class than worrying about what my grade is gonna be at the end of the semester.

When constructing an argument I was always taught to establish my point of view and then refute the other side in detail later. In high school a 5 paragraph essay template was always given to us containing one introductory paragraph, two supporting paragraphs, one paragraph to recognize the other side’s views, and a conclusion. Although it provides an effective format for an essay when given a specific prompt it does not work as well when a broad prompt is given. While reading They Say, I Say by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein they proposed the idea of acknowledging the other side first so the reader can be aware of the two sets of views during the entire essay. Clearly establishing the otherside will put an emphasis on the side you are arguing for. During the “Bloodchild” essay it helped me to clearly define what my article was arguing for and against in the beginning and leave out the vagueness that was emphasized in high school. Even though this helps in writing I have found it is more useful when I am speaking to others. Thanksgiving break allowed me to try it out with a large number of people. It did not matter if I was talking about school or in a discussion about the Buffalo Bills, by putting the weaknesses of my argument to bed first allowed for my position to appear stronger. Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein emphasize the use of templates that all stem from the basic formula of they say, I say. One of my new favorites to use is in their “Templates for Agreeing”(Graff, Birkenstein 64). I used one last night during the Thursday night football game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers when my roommate said that “Jason Kelce is a better center than Travis Kelce is a tight end”. Although I disagreed with his statement I did not want to make it seem as if he was all wrong because after all it is an opinion about sports and there is no way of proving either one of us right. I ended up saying “Although Jason Kelce is one of the best centers in the league, Travis Kelce has been the undisputable best tight end in the league ever since Gronkowski retired”. Even though I did not establish my opinion right away it still became clear right after I summarized his argument. Taking my time and slowing down allowed me to develop my idea further.

When I get feedback on essays I write, the most common tip I receive is to slow down and take my time, including my “Bloodchild” essay. Too often I rush through an idea because I do not have a complete understanding of what I am trying to say. My first “Bloodchild” essay wasn’t packed in with too much information because I did not know how to write an essay but because I only had a slim understanding of “Bloodchild” itself. At the beginning of the semester we watched “The danger of a single story”, a Ted talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Adichie talks about how often she was misjudged by someone based because she was from Africa. She recognizes that books, stories and news headlines all portray Africa very differently from what she knows and it’s not because the articles are wrong but because the articles are an incomplete representation of Africa. I did not realize until now that the reason I struggled with the “Bloodchild” essay was because I had an incomplete story in my head. Despite rereading the book several times to hopefully get a better understanding it never made sense to me at that time. I never fully understood the story until long after I turned it in when we talked through the story in class and small groups several times. When I went back to reread what I wrote I found out that a majority of the essay was inaccurate to the story and Octavia Butler’s intentions while writing the book. Now that I feel that I truly understand “Bloodchild” , if I went back and did a second rewrite of my “Bloodchild” essay it would be far more detailed and better get at the main idea of the book because I no longer have an incomplete story to base it off of.

My expectations for this INTD-105 writing class were completely different from what it actually was. It was in fact not a business writing class but one where we studied interactions between people in several different scenarios. Although my skills are nowhere near perfect I have vastly improved over the course of the semester due to the fact that I could focus on learning and improving instead of obsessing over my grades. This semester I was able to slow down and form an idea based on a complete picture with all the information available to me.

First Semester reflection about risk and reward

When I signed up for the class the name was INTD 105, Risk, Rewards, and Rent-Paying. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I knew it was a required writing class that I was going to take at Geneseo. Before starting the class I did not know what the Risk, Rewards, and Rent-paying would mean. I came into class on the first day open minded and ready to learn about the concepts. There were risks about coming to college that I did not realize I was facing at the time. I didn’t know how the adjustment from high school classes to college classes would be. Was I prepared for these courses? Would the professors be nice? Would I make friends to study with? There were many thoughts racing through my brain about my learning, on top of all the other uncertainties that college brings. Through this semester I have learned about the risk and rewards we are challenged with in everyday life. 

Looking back, I wrote many essays throughout the semester, starting with the “In This Space Essay” where we were just supposed to show our abilities as a writer. To this “Final Self-Reflection Essay” where we are thinking about our growth from the course. I have changed how I think about risk, rewards, and rent-paying from the first day of class from reading the story “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler. We looked through the lens of two species on an alien planet; the Tlic and Terrans. Professor McCoy pushed my thinking to relate it back into my own life and journey with this course. 

On the first day of writing class I walked into the room and there were a lot less people than I expected. When I thought about college classes I pictured a big lecture all with hundreds of people. This was quite the opposite, it is a small classroom with about twenty students, a professor, and a teacher assistant. I was feeling very nervous to be surrounded with unfamiliar faces in a new environment. But I have learned you are uncomfortable before you can feel comfortable in any new situation. From this first class Professor McCoy made it clear what her expectations were and how the course would be. We would need to be very self reliant with our work and keep ourselves accountable. She did not give us a course syllabus in order for us to navigate Brightspace on our own. Brightspace was the new platform that we were adjusting to. It is where we would get assignments, due dates, and where to be prepared for class. We were assigned the “In this Space Essay” and I was very unsure of how I would be as a writer. I wrote in the essay how I was not confident with my writing skills. I did not feel prepared from my highschool English teachers to come to a college writing class. When I got my feedback from Professor McCoy I felt better knowing that I was in a good place with my writing but there was still room for improvement. I was told to slow down with my work to make my thoughts more clear to my readers. At this time I didn’t really understand what slowing down meant. I thought I unpacked everything that I could have with what the prompt asked. 

We continued through the semester and started reading the book “Bloodchild” By Octavia Butler. We had many class discussions along with group discussions. We got very in depth with the concept of risk, reward, and rent-paying. We used the Tlic and Terrans to explore the concepts. The main Terran, Gan was faced with challenges that would affect the rest of his life. He had to decide if he should carry the eggs of T’Gatoi, who was a Tlic. We also looked at the social relationships between the two groups. I was forced to think outside of my comfort zone and unpack my thoughts. When we wrote our first “Bloodchild” essay it took me a very long time to figure out what to write for every move. I wanted to make sure I was taking in the feedback I got with my first essay to make my next one better. I worked with my friends and held myself accountable. Professor McCoy told us to take the essay step by step and not as a whole. Where it can then get overwhelming and harder to get done. I submitted my first draft and I thought I did the best that I could. Until I got my feedback that said I still had a lot of work to be done. I was told it was a rough draft and I needed to narrow my essay to one kernel. I was discouraged at first when I was told I was going to have to write the entire essay over again. I got back to work to continue to unpack my thoughts more and narrow down my essay. I was then rewarded with the outcome of a better essay that was published on First-Year Chronicles. I felt better about my writing after this essay and was starting to understand the concepts of slowing down, unpacking my thoughts, and narrowing down my essay. 

It is now the end of the semester and we did many collaborative work with different prompts. We did a collaborative essay and I thought that it went well. We continued to work on the concepts that we have been working on all semester. I am now writing this “Final Self-Reflection Essay” and I would say I am a better writer and a better thinker. From starting with the risks and rewards we talked about in the book “Bloodchild”. I am taking away that I can see the risks and rewards in my everyday life. We make small and big decisions that affect us everyday. You can choose between going to the gym and working out or sitting on the couch to watch Netflix. I can now continue past my first semester and into the rest of my time at Geneseo with the skills I have learned from this course. 

Owen Burns – reflection essay intd 105

Owen Burns INTD 105

The title “Risks, Rewards, and Rent Paying” leads the common reader to believe the course goes over the business aspect of learning the ins and outs of rent paying and the risks and rewards of doing so or not. When coming to SUNY Geneseo, I initially led myself to believe we would be writing about the risks of a bad credit score and the economics of property management. With this idea of a class that would help me in real-life economics and learning about the risks and rewards of it, I was excited to add a class to my fall semester that would promote my knowledge in business. The ignorance I had ended up being the greatest asset I have now at the end of this course because it demonstrates the connection between my life and the story of Octavia Butler’s “Blood Child.”

Walking into this classroom, sitting down for the first time and only knowing the title of the course and that I was going to have to do some form of writing, I thought this class was going to be another lecture-style course, where I would be given a prompt and left to write my mind away, hoping I could produce an essay that would give me a good grade. Come to find out, I never knew there was a thing as a self-graded class that was structured for the hope of good-faith collaborative conversation between myself and the other peers that are in the same position I was in. This was the first time my ignorance ran me the wrong way, and I was proved wrong. The second time was my idea of what this course was about; when I think of risks, rewards, and rent paying, it gives off a very different idea than what it actually means, and I think I can speak for others on that. In this course, I learned that risks, rewards, and rent paying are the application of ignorance and knowledge in our everyday lives. Taking risks leads to a reward, but it also can leave us paying for that ignorance.

The first essay we wrote was the “In This Space Essay,” and in my opinion, I completely ruined my image of a writer when I got that essay reflection back because I was not only utterly embarrassed, but I used the spelling of “fraze” in the completely wrong way when I meant to say “phrase.” The realization of my ego was a very important lesson I also learned when I read the feedback because I knew from that moment on, I am not the best writer in the world, and I cannot rush through things and expect a positive outcome. Me learning how to slow down and access different writing tools to help me use course themes like unpacking and thinking were very important lessons because I learned writing accountability and why I should care for my writing.

After learning how to unpack and get a small understanding of the course, I still wasn’t sure what this course meant because in my mind, I was thinking, “well, okay, any writing course is going to show me how to write better.” Yet again, wrong, but thankfully for that because my mindset set me up again to learn and opened my eyes to, in my opinion, the biggest lesson I have learned in this class. “Blood Child” presents an elaborate story of the problems ignorance can cause. By using a rather harsh and disgusting example of an insect life species implanting their eggs into humans. This story tells us about a kid coming of age and having to face the so-called last night of his childhood, not realizing what he was going to have to go through as he became old enough to carry the egg of the Tlic. He had an idea of what it was but he was still extremely ignorant about the exact doings and procedure. The story relates to me and my adventure in this class because just like the Terrans, I only had a small particle of information and understanding of something I was going to have to face as I grew up and came of age to pick my classes as I entered college. In my case, I possessed the lack of knowledge of this course, entering it almost blindly, thinking I would be doing something completely different than what we actually did.

Completing “Blood Child” was the part of this course that, I think, helped me the most in learning how to become a better writer and a better classmate because we did many different interactive activities with each other, either talking about the book and applying situations to our life and themes from “They Say/I Say.” In doing this, I learned what it meant to take care of my learning and my peers’ learning, having to stay on top of my reading and actively listening during class so if I got called on I could give a valued answer or an opinion that would benefit the class. Learning to be collaborative with each other was definitely my favorite part of this course because we got to read the same material and think about it however we wanted and freely form our own opinions on the story and how it applies to us. Then after doing that, we are able to come together and share our thoughts with one another in good faith. Our collaborative essay was by far my favorite because I got to sit first hand, watching more skilled writers use different formats and writing styles and constructing their message in very impressive ways. Recognizing the great work from my peers and being able to actively add and ask for their opinion on my thoughts really helped gain understanding on how to become a better writer, and it showed me a different opinion is not the wrong opinion. I also really enjoyed the collaborative essay because I felt like I was part of a team working together to reach a common goal of producing a well-written essay.

I believe this class was one of the best ignorant decisions I have ever made because I learned not only writing skills but real-life skills about being accountable for myself and the work I produce. I think I am coming out of this class stronger because now I cannot be ashamed of switching numbers up and having a small attention span because I was able to come to an understanding that there is help and people do care about my learning. I also think if it wasn’t for this class I would’ve blown off the chances to accountability for myself in going to office hours and actually going to talk to someone about learning accommodations. I will be able to apply this class and our course concepts all the time throughout my life. Knowing that there will always be risks and rewards in all decision-making, understanding that being ignorant is a common thing but becoming aware is a powerful tool inside the classroom reviewing and doing your best to understand course material and reading. Also being aware in everyday life, thinking what impact do my actions have on myself, knowing all my decisions have risks and rewards. This class has given me an opening eye experience to a new way of thinking and I will continue to apply the course themes in my future classes and life experiences.