It was clear both from the presentations and the reactions that "Rigor" is a tricky word to pin down. Is Rigor a set of standards which are strictly followed in a purely behaviorist model? Is Rigor a drive towards larger and more in-depth projects and papers? Is Rigor an extremely detailed examination of a few small concepts in impressive precision?
The answer, of course, is no. And yes. None of those qualities are the real definition of rigor, though all can be symptoms of a larger cause. Rigor is much like Excellence...it's difficult to define but people know it when they see it.
Johnny Ive, the chief designer at Apple Inc. once made a key remark:
"Design is not just how something looks. It's what something is..."
Rigor, then, is not how detailed an assignment can, nor how impressive the laundry list of requirements, nor how strictly standards are followed. Rigor is the motivation and design towards creating efficient and authentically designed lessons which deliver real results. Rigor is creating assignments with purpose beyond grades. Rigor is curriculum design which is both standardized and allows for choice. Rigor is the management of class time which motivates students to think autonomously.
With two more days until the Game Begins, it's my supreme hope that the game-based mastery-graded system in Escapades Through British Literature (CP English 12) can begin to break down the dichotomy of "Rigor" and "Difficulty". The irony of Rigor's very definition being Rigorous is a tautology if ever there was one.