Along the West Coast in California, golf is the norm and with the Pacific Ocean in the background, its golf at its finest. These Blue Tees in the center help us connect golf to RIGOR in education:
the easy Red Tees, the tough Blue Tees and the middle White Tees; all searching for par.
From our perspective, as a middle school that has fallen into the lower half of performing schools in the state, results from self-reflection began isolating interesting concerns.
A student came to interview our principal about the schools’ struggling state scores. The questions were insightful and an open exchange led to a fluid discussion. The principal asked the student, in her terms, “What does RIGOR mean?” The answer, “Up to par,” borrowed from the golf industry to reveal insights and wisdom. The implication leads us to consider the dynamic nature of raising the bar, playing on harder courses, maturing, strengthening and driving longer, playing from the white, blue or pink tees and the expectations surrounding each hole. Translating these concepts into applications for academia describes our major concern as professional educators, parents and students.
Playing golf on one course verses another can make all the difference. A simple “par 3” course verses a complete “18 hole” course filled with beaches and bunkers demonstrates the diversity and emphasis necessary for every standard, component or objective and the resiliency to adapt every shot. Do we teach to par?
Turning from the picture above, we see these boulders protecting the shore-front from the intense waves. Yet over time, erosion takes its toll. Similarly, we protect and nurture children as they grow but eventually, they must find their own path. Too much protection makes them weaker.
Ask a baby giraffe. Do we teach our students to get up?
As youth work to eliminate the slice and then the hook from the drive, the form, grip and technique all play into the results. Similarly, the habits, behaviors and support all influence the likelihood of educational success. Do students know the basics?
As a golfer tees off from the closer tees, does the advantage influence the final outcome or does it handicap and keep him from reaching his fullest potential? Robyn R. Jackson writes from the perspective that teachers should never work harder than their students. She advocates never doing ANYTHING for the students that they might be able to do for themselves. Getting better requires failure. We must push to the point of failure, regroup, rethink and try again. A par 4 is always a par 4 but sometimes playing from the easier tees us an unfair advantage, especially when traveling to another par 4 and having to play along others that held themselves up to the higher standard.
Barbara Blackburn defines Rigor as creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels.
Is this something we can work with or do we need more? Is this too much? What does this mean? Let's keep talking and find out! Can we use this?
Our next Blog…
What if a teacher teaches and EVERYBODY gets an A?
What if one student works hard for the A but another plays around and still get an A? How does that feel?
What if a teacher teaches and EVERYBODY gets an F?
How does that adjust our view of RIGOR?