I've typically stayed out of the argument about the word rigor, mainly because it is a word that is commonly used in school reform. I'm a pragmatist, and rather than argue to change the word (which is an uphill battle to say the least), I prefer to reclaim the word rigor for classroom teachers. This is particularly helpful as many policymakers and educators say they want increased rigor, without being able to explain what it looks like in the classroom. Rigor isn't harder, or more homework, or something negative. Rigor is:
creating an environment in which expecting each student to learn at high levels, supporting each student so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrating learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).
Notice that rigor is really about students learning at higher levels. In order to do so, we must hold students to high expectations, help them get there, and provide opportunities to show us what they know. Student motivation and engagement are essential for those to happen. That's a far cry from the negative dictionary definition of rigor. No matter how you feel about the word, hopefully we can agree that students should learn at higher levels. And let's work together to make that happen.