OK, I can count. I know that ‘rigor‘ and ‘rigorous‘ are not really four-letter words. However, I believe that they, when used by politicians and educators, they are curse words.
Here’s what brings this to mind: I am trying to figure out what I have learned in my 41 years of reporting about education. Over the years I have sat in 1000’s of classrooms and have spent countless hours with lots of teachers, and, for the life of me, I cannot remember a single teacher ever using either the noun or the adjective in our conversations.
But administrators and politicians, that’s a different story. My hunch is, the further away they are from the classroom, the more likely people are to use those cuss words. But they aren’t cussing, of course. Sadly, they are describing what they are convinced schools need more of.
It was the great Debbie Meier who first brought to my attention the familiar form of rigor in our language: rigor mortis.
Let’s ask Merriam Webster:
Full Definition of rigor. 1 a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty. 2 : a tremor caused by a chill.
Full Definition of rigorous. 1 : manifesting, exercising, or favoring rigor : very strict. 2 a : marked by extremes of temperature or climate b : harsh, severe.
Is that what you want for schools, for your children or grandchildren?
So, if you care about education and you hear some know-it-all talking about the need for more rigor, run the other way. Or, better yet, confront him or her.
Here’s what good schools, some of them anyway, look and sound like: https://themerrowreport.com/2014/11/07/what-happens-in-good-schools/