How do you define rigor in schools? This is the best I have heard so far…

25 06 2009

Have you seen this Video? This is amazing- project-based learning at High Tech High. This is the same school that is mentioned as a case study in The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner.

Student working on Math Art

Student working on Math Art

This imagery and story is amazing but one of my favorite moments is near the end when Larry talks about rigor in education. He points out that rigor is often seen as increasing content and increasing the complexity of the content. I have to agree as many discussions surrounding rigor in schools boil down to tests and test scores. Just take the annual lists of the “100 best high schools” as compiled and determined by the rigorous method of evaluating the number of Advance Placement and International Baccalaureate test taken by students at a school divided by the number of graduating seniors. This is a very sad commentary on what we value in education. When schools that are offering more AP and IB classes are seen as more rigorous and therefore as better schools, we are in trouble. Where is the passion? Where is the curiosity? Where is learning for learning’s sake?

Rosenstock defines rigor as “being in the company of a passionate adult who’s rigorously pursuing in inquiry in the area of their subject matter and is inviting students along as peers an adult discourse” I love this as it clearly places the teacher as the more expert, passionate learner much in the style of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development as the more expert adult steps in to scaffold the learner along through their creative learning process. Rosenstock’s charge to his faculty…What do you love to do outside of school…BRING IT IN! Make it a part of what you teach and learn each day as you work with the students.

Watch this video and see if you are not inspired. I am about to pack my bags for NECC 2009 and this video just reinforces what I know about teaching and learning and what I will be looking for at this year’s conference.

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