Saturday, March 3, 2012

What is rigor?

Larry Ferlazzo,  whose fascinating and  prolific blog activity leads me to believe he has found the secret of living life without sleep asks the question "What is rigor?"
This was my response in the comment section:

The principal asked that very question at a faculty meeting and the teacher next to me leaned in and said. “isn’t that what happens to a dead body?”

To me true “rigor” is the level of work just a bit above any student’s comfort level. It cannot be an arbitrary concept. I was in a science class the principal was observing. It was a “do over.” The principal wanted a lesson with more rigor then the original one she observed. The students were to read an article on Archimedes and write a summary. The principal had “encouraged” the teacher to pick a” rigorous” article. The students took highlighters and highlighted a variety of random sentences and copied or paraphrased many of them into their summaries. The principal walked around and encouraged them to write more, “good summaries include a lot of details,” she admonished. And they did. The lesson “looked” rigorous, lots of reading, lots of writing. The principal was happy.
I read the summaries- not one person mentioned the principal of displacement. No one could explain the relationship between displacement and mass. The article was above both their reading and science independence level, in my opinion.
So I am afraid that rigor is just a word, a trick, a distraction from the real work of education meeting students where they are and moving them up on the learning curve in a thoughtful, planful way.


  1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I'll be reprinting part of it and linking to your post so readers can see the rest...


    P.S. I do sleep, though just a little :)

  2. AMEN!!!! I am tired of hearing the "r word". I will help my kiddos learn and succeed as much as I can. If part of the curriculum is too hard for one of my children why am I going to spend a week teaching them that when they need to learn the foundation first that will help them to be able to learn and grasp that concept later on. I am torn at times by what my head is saying "they" told me I need to be teaching or what my heart says these kiddos need...I am not just teaching a curriculum...I am teaching a child and his/her heart.

    I am your newest follower and would love for you to visit me. I share some inspirational poems that I would love for you to read.

    Heather's Heart