James Daniel & Associates Weblog

February 5, 2008

What is Rigor?

Filed under: Rigor — jamesdanielassociates @ 11:47 pm

Much of the literature and many of the speakers on the circuit say that we need more rigor in our schools. We do not deny a need for rigor. However, we want to know what rigor is. We want to know what it means to develop a school where rigor is a primary trait of the learning program. We firmly believe that rigor is not giving students more content and more work. We emphatically believe that taking students into arenas where they have no chance of success is not rigor.

We believe that rigor is requiring students to enter an arena where success comes from accepting challenges. Students must have experience where persistence on their part will lead to success. Students must learn that persistence more than innate intelligence can be the factor that leads to achievment.

Rigorous experiences may come through projects, problems that require creative thinking, or experiences where students learn how to innovate in order to complete a process. For example, a team of students may be asked to build a business plan and present their idea to a bank board of directors. Another example may be to ask students to determine and develop the words that would best fit in a missing paragraph in a reading. Or, students may be given a used cell phone and told to tear it apart and then write the directions as to how to put it back together. All of these would be rigorous experiences.

What rigorous experiences do students face in your schools? We would be interested in knowing.


1 Comment »

  1. In Pennsylvania, many students face what should be rigorous experiences in the required graduation project. Interestingly, to me however, is that many of the projects are done in isolation and students never face the rigor of teamwork. When a project is done through teams, students learn to debate, discuss, and argue what are the right ways to do things. This allows the students the opportunity to learn about rigor in the real world. Many times, the most challenging part of accomplishing some activity is the struggle to have the group reach consensus on how to attack the problem. I am trying to convince our schools administration to move all projects to team based activities so that students can face a component of rigor that they seldom see in school.

    Comment by Maria Sanchez — February 9, 2008 @ 10:04 am

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