To the editor:
If an English professor is ever confused about what “rigor” means — as on this Inside Increased Ed essay — I like to recommend that they communicate with somebody within the sciences.
I’m sorry, however everyone knows which fields have median grades on the A- and even A degree, and it’s not any of the sciences.
The humanities completely will be rigorous. My first quarter in school I took a world literature class the place for the primary couple essays not a single pupil was given an A (a shock to a category of scholars used to 4.0 GPAs from highschool). The trainer was difficult, but in addition engaged and galvanizing, and he pushed us to do higher. Ultimately a few of us began getting A’s. They weren’t unattainable, however he wasn’t going at hand them out like sweet or fake like there aren’t any penalties in life for substandard work.
I bear in mind him with fondness to today, together with the maths professor I had that very same quarter who taught me the that means of “rigorous” (a phrase I had hardly ever if ever used earlier than that). Proofs that had holes in them weren’t rigorous, and wouldn’t get full credit score. As a result of proofs which have holes in them is perhaps improper. The idea of true rigor in math arose within the nineteenth century as ideas as a result of so summary and tough that instinct and sketchy proofs didn’t lower it anymore. Rigor allowed progress.
To today I insist on rigor in my courses, partly as a result of an engineer who doesn’t know their stuff and simply received by with prizes for effort might actually kill folks. I additionally do numerous low-stakes and no-stakes assignments to encourage fearless engagement with concepts, however sooner or later you need to ask “Did the scholar be taught this ability?”
The axis of rigorous/non-rigorous and the axis of fine instruction/dangerous instruction are orthogonal. Duffy pretends to not perceive this — “was my professor who didn’t train us in any respect being rigorous, and if that’s the case, why would anybody need to be rigorous?” In doing so, he does a disservice to all the concept of educational requirements.