Part of the standard reform lexicon is the word “rigor.” We are told again and again that standards must be rigorous, tests must be rigorous, teachers must be rigorous. That’s the trouble, we hear, with our schools. They lack rigor.


But what is rigor?


A reader who calls him/herself Brooklyn Teacher looked up the word “rigor” and supplied the following definition:


“ALL early childhood children, Pre-K through grade three, need to play. Here is the full definition of rigor from Merriam-Webster and it’s horrid that we apply this to learning at any age:
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
: a tremor caused by a chill
: a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
: strict precision : exactness
a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness
b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli
c : rigor mortis


I say, whenever you hear the word “rigor,” think rigor mortis.