What is Keystone, really?

Throughout my four years at Quest, there was one thing I could not figure out: What do we do during Keystone block?

The Keystone block is the final class taken at Quest. In order to enter the class, students must have a (nearly completed) Keystone project that they have been working on for a substantial period of time. Keystone projects incorporate the knowledge obtained from courses and other experiences. They can take different forms, including literature reviews, original research papers, documentaries, art pieces, musical performances, etc.

I wanted to know what was done during that month, once you have the finished product. The course catalog describes Keystone block as a course where “students reflect on their Quest education and prepare for the public presentation of their Keystone project.” How vague!

Having Keystone as the final class taken at Quest meant that I dwelled on this mystery for four years. Most students could not explain what the block entailed. And those that had taken Keystone had graduated. There was no one to pass down the secrets of Keystone block.

Now I find myself in this class, and finally understand what it is about! Keystone is a month-long editing workshop. This includes editing our own document, as well as those of our peers. On the first day of class, we were split up into “writing groups” with a few other students whose projects were in a similar discipline. We set writing goals, and edited each other’s pieces. My peers were instrumental in providing constructive feedback to improve my paper.

Now is the second week of the block. We have moved on from the writing portion to presentations. For three days this week, we will be presenting and refining presentations of our Keystone project. Again, we are placed in a group, but here the disciplines vary. This is meant to have the presentations be accessible to a wide range of audiences, not just experts in the field. The challenge is to provide enough background to be understood while explaining months of research in the span of 12 minutes. We have three consecutive days to refine, and present our updated versions to the same group.

Not only am I improving my own writing and presenting skills, but my ability to critique and edit other work in fields that I am both familiar and unfamiliar with. I have learned so much about the editing process, and am not even halfway through this class!


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