Rigor vs Vigor
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Rigor vs Vigor

Rigor vs Vigor

I hear parents, teachers, administrators and politicians speak about education a lot, and too often I hear them speak of the need for more rigor in school.

Before blindly accepting the need for more rigor, I would like us to look more closely at the definition of rigor:

  • strictness, severity, or harshness, as in dealing with people.
  • severity of living conditions; hardship; austerity: the rigor of wartime existence
  • obsolete. stiffness or rigidity.
  • a state of rigidity in living tissues or organs that prevents response to stimuli.

Consider some of the synonyms for rigor:

  • inflexibility
  • stringency
  • cruelty
  • pain

Does any of the above sound like a good description of a learning environment you would want for you child?

Honestly, I would hope not.

In an interview with Learning Matters, Phillip Kovacs (columnist for EdNews.org) suggests we replace rigor with vigor.

Consider the defintions for vigor:

  • active strength or force.
  • healthy, physical or mental energy or power; vitality.
  • energetic activity; energy; intensity: the economic recovery has give the country a new vigor.
  • force of healthy growth in any living matter or organism, as a plant.

Consider some of vigor’s synonyms:

  • drive
  • strength
  • force
  • flourish
  • vitality

Doesn’t vigor sound like a far more engaging and purposeful learning environment?

You could make the case that this is simple semantics, but I believe language matters – and the words we associate with learning and teaching should be chosen very carefully. I believe this to be true simply because today’s educational reforms -unfortunately – are more apt to reflect rigor than vigor.

~Joe Bower

www.joebower.org

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