Friday, September 12, 2014

The 'R' Word

Synonyms include:

strict,
tough,
harsh,
rigid,
uncompromising,
severe,
inflexible,
exacting,
unsparing,
draconian,
authoritarian

What popular education word am I referencing?

Its starts with a 'R' and ends with a igorous.

The word makes my ears scream and my body convulse. Okay, I am being a little dramatic, but I seriously loathe the word rigorous.

On any given day, I read numerous articles, talk to education stakeholders, and hear numerous influential people constantly reference the 'R' word.

WHY?

Look at what the word really means. Please. Please. I beg of you. These are not words I want describing education. Yet over and over we hear how kids need rigorous instruction, rigorous curriculum, rigorous standards, rigorous teachers, rigorous schools. No where is the word rigorous more exalted than in urban schools, often those in lower socioeconomic areas. If we are harder on these schools, on these students, on these teachers than all will be well.

I know most people use 'R' word with great intentions. They want the best for students and schools. I get it. But please look closely at the adjectives you use.

There are better ways to describe a high quality education. In fact why don't we start there? Why not focus on high quality curriculum? High quality instruction? High quality schools? Another word we might use is relevant. Heck, let's combine the two: a high quality, relevant education.

Words have meaning. Using combative, repressive, and commanding words evokes a certain mood, a certain emotion. It makes one automatically turn to the negative, even if that is not the intent. This is why I push to stop using the 'R' word.

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