Mike Skocko

AMP | Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

From this resource.

AMP (Autonomy Mastery Purpose) in response to Nathan's request

The idea comes straight from Dan Pink who in turn got it (in part) from Deci and Ryan's research that led to their Self-Determination Theory. I was first exposed to the concepts in this video then in Pink's book, Drive.

I read Drive over winter break in 2011 and decided I'd mimic the Atlassian 24 hour "FedEx" day (see Motivation on this page) in the (approx) 24 days we had until the end of the semester (one hour per class per day). Since research demonstrates that paying people enough to take the issue of money off the table is key to getting optimal results, I did just that.

On the first day back, I pitched the kids. I explained the research and the concept. After a short discussion we agreed that grades were the equivalent of money in school so I promised to give everyone an A for the semester's grade if they gave AMP their all and documented the experience.


Students were given the option of working on any project and/or skill-building exercises they wanted so long as it was even remotely related to what we do in the Mac Lab. Those who didn't know what to do were free to use any of my tutorials and/or continue working on the same projects as before. The only additional requirement was they had to document the experience before, during, and after the 24 days to provide anecdotal evidence of the experiment's success (or lack thereof).


The theory holds that when individuals are given autonomy in deciding how to do their jobs, the tendency toward mastery is a natural consequence. Recognition and status replace extrinsic rewards as prime secondary motivators.


(Perhaps the most misunderstood part of the AMP equation.) Our purpose, as I continually tell the students, is to change the course of education in this county. With this experiment, our specific purpose was to prove that students could self-select and self-direct their learning over the course of a month. I promised, as always, to share the results far and wide and I offered to extend the experiment if enough students proved they could handle the challenge.

Remember: The purpose has to be bigger than oneself. If the purpose is simply to make oneself better, it's not AMP. Being part of something larger is the real lever. I can't stress that enough.

Some of the results were shared in this comment. The students that tried and floundered still succeeded in my eyes. They discovered what didn't work. The students who stopped trying (there always seems to be a few despite my best attempts to prod and encourage) did not receive an A. Not one disagreed with me. I saw that as another win.


Discovering that some students didn't like self-direction was enlightening. Discovering that many students deeply resented the slackers surprised me. As I write, however, I'm wondering if it was because we were in fact a team, trying to prove something to the world and the fact that some teammates weren't pulling their weight really bothered some students. I hadn't even considered that angle until right now. I guess they really may have felt part of something bigger than themselves. That's a big takeaway.

The kids who started seeing their world a little differently because of AMP? Epic Win.


Edit: "Since research demonstrates that paying people enough to take the issue of money off the table is key to getting optimal results, I did just that."

That would seem to lend credence to the value of The World's Simplest Rubric. In essence, it takes the issue of money off the table as well. (Just thinking out loud.)

0 / 5 • No Ratings

Comments (39)

Write a reply...
or Join for free to view all comments and participate in the discussion.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/27/15 7:59:21 AM Permalink

End result of a lot of AMP came in today. In an outstanding essay summarizing his experiences over the past year, one of my students wrote (reprinted with his permission):

"This concept of failure being one step toward success reached further than my programming. I also started to apply that same idea to my other courses such as English. For a long time I have struggled with analytical papers. This was because I often did not understand what I was reading. After failing a hundred plus times I finally got a decent grade on one of them. This taught me that change is twice as hard as accepting failure, but the rewards are infinitely better. While learning the merits of failure was important I also learned that becoming a programmer changes the way you see and interact with the world."

So happy right now. :-D

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/27/15 9:35:28 AM Permalink

Man, feedback like that makes it all worthwhile. You helped expand and redefine that kid's relationship with the world.

But no matter how many times I see/hear it, I'm always surprised that change is so hard for most teens ("twice as hard as accepting failure"). They've been conditioned so thoroughly. I sometimes think helping to free them from that programming is more important than the subject matter.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/27/15 9:47:02 AM Permalink

From an email to Dan Pink summarizing my first go at AMP back in 2012...

...January had its share of highs and lows. Some kids embraced self-direction and some floundered. I offered suggestions (on our blog) as to how the lost souls might self-direct but allowed kids to miss the target with no penalty (I'm a long-time believer in the positive power of failure). During finals I spoke with each kid (14 to 18 year olds) individually and asked for their take on the experiment. The vast majority of kids didn't hesitate and said they loved it. (Dissenters either wanted more structure and/or were bothered by the kids who floundered.) Each was also asked if we should continue with AMP (with why or why not).

The most consistently surprising answer to both questions was something along the lines of, "Because I'm finally learning how to use (insert app's name)." It was surprising because I'd already taught (or thought I did) them how to use those apps. In hindsight, this time it was their choice to learn app X and therefore they did. D'oh! However, the really surprising answer a few kids gave was that AMP had changed the way they viewed school and was helping them succeed in other classes too. (Didn't see that coming.)

After finals we had class-wide discussions and the kids unanimously agreed that AMP with optional structure was the way to go the second semester. The level of motivation and engagement is significantly higher than normal right now and this is already a pretty well-know classroom for high levels of student achievement....

Dan's reply:

Thanks for the great update. The reaction to the apps surprised me, too, but after thinking about it, I had at the same forehead-slapping realization that you did.

The notion that AMP changed the way they looked at school, though, evoked a different reaction: It made my day. Thanks for that.

More important, thanks for what you're doing. It's huge.


You just made my day, too, Matthew. And the sun won't rise for hours, :)

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/19/15 10:13:43 AM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/19/15 6:43:48 PM Permalink

Thanks for the heads-up, Matthew. Wider exposure is good! I posted a brief comment and linked back here.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/19/15 7:48:33 PM Permalink

LOL. Click

Just for the record...

Kudos to Montessori but we need to see more AMP in public education as well. In January of 2012 the students and I gave this strategy a test drive. Details: http://edex.adobe.com/group/ga... The experiment bore unexpected fruit and AMP is now a permanent part of our student-centered, self-paced, gameful learning environment.

To those who will undoubtably wonder, boundaries are set via ZIM (The Zone of Intrinsic Motivation) and our rubric is individualized, effort-based, and tied to the class policies and expectations. Additional details and examples of student work may be found on http://maclab.guhsd.net/ (scroll down)

Matthew Miller

Posted on 9/16/14 4:09:25 PM Permalink

More anecdotal evidence that AMP + WSR work. This was posted by a colleague of mine. "...In discussions with my Stagecraft class about assessment methods I shared with them your rubric and some boys recognized it - as they are in your Yearbook class. The boys said they do a lot more work in class using this rubric. All positive stuff...."

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/16/14 4:21:45 PM Permalink


Love it!

Matthew Miller

Posted on 8/24/14 9:27:58 AM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 8/24/14 1:22:49 PM Permalink

The technique for nurturing a sense-of-purpose mentality is designed so that “the student owns that and kind of puts those pieces together in their own heads, for themselves,” Farrington noted. “And that is a different thing than your mom or your teacher telling you, it’s important to do this because blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Great find, Matthew. Couldn't agree more.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 7/15/14 8:37:55 PM Permalink

Wasn't sure where to post this but I really wanted to do so; this seemed the best thread for it. I've referred several folks over the past year to the original comments (in our 2000+ size thread) Rob and Mike made about "Gamification is a Mindset" and "AMP." I'm getting tired of wating for that thing to load whenever _I_ want to reference them, so I'm sure those who don't know how great that stuff is are impatient, too. So I collected the comments I usually reference and consolidated them into a short document on Google for easier reference: Gamification is a Mindset. It's world-open for viewing and commenting, in case anyone else wants to reference it. I use those comments regularly when I'm discussing the philosophy and viewpoint of gamification with those who are familiar with and supportive of gamification but not yet with the broader vision behind/underneath the mechanics level of why it's useful and important.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 6/3/14 7:42:22 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 6/4/14 2:12:36 PM Permalink

Finally made the time to read that. What an amazing project.

We soooo need to embrace ideas that inspire, engage and empower students.

Hmm... Innovation Nation (Coming Soon)

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/29/14 7:07:05 PM Permalink

Great variation on the grade yourself theme, posted on his "TechedUpTeacher" blog by our own Chris Aviles: Can we trust students to peer grade? He's got a great set of data from his first couple attempts at peer grading, both comparing peer to traditional (good fidelity) and student evaluation of the peer graders & assigned grades (highly positive). I am so stealing this idea for some of my classes next year.

(hint: yes ... duh)

Matthew Miller

Posted on 3/6/14 11:52:56 AM Permalink

Another Deci and Ryan paper I just discovered, reviewing the research as of 2000, and reframing the discussion of extrinsic motivation:

Frankly speaking, because many of the tasks that educators want their students to perform are not inherently interesting or enjoyable, knowing how to promote more active and volitional (versus passive and controlling) forms of extrinsic motivation becomes an essential strategy for successful teaching.

I agree to a certain extent. I think it's useful to consider extrinsic motivation factors; they're one more tool to use in the ongoing quest to build engagement. But I think rather than accept that the tasks we have are not inherently interesting or enjoyable, we need to look at the tasks and ask, "if this isn't inherently interesting nor enjoyable, why are we asking students to do it?"

For the vast majority of subjects, I think there are interesting and enjoyable approaches to the content, education as an institution has just forgotten what they are. We need to rediscover them and use them. If they didn't exist, the subject would likely have disappeared from the planet (outside of education) because nobody else would engage with that subject.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 2/26/14 10:58:54 AM Permalink

Recent article by Karl Kapp about goal orientation in gamification had this:

research has shown that when individuals are given performance oriented goals they typically perform better only with simple, non-complex tasks [1]. (emphasis added by me)

from the reference "Winters, D., & Latham, G. P. (1996). The effect of learning versus outcome goals on a simple versus a complex task. Group & Organization Management, 21(2), 236-250."

<rant warning on>
which is available online only if you're a member of one of the academic research collections. Are you tired of academic research being captured in silos that you don't have access to? I sure am. I really appreciate Kapp's references, but so many are to research I can't access myself (without spending a load), which limits their helpfulness.
</rant warning>

Ah well, interesting article, nonetheless.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/26/14 1:13:08 PM Permalink

I share your rant regarding locking research behind a toll booth. Makes me furious even to think about it (even though I've got a key to a research library though via my masters program).

I like the punchline at the end:

Best practice:

For complex tasks requiring creativity or complicated strategies try to instill a mastery orientation. For simple or repetitive tasks instill a performance orientation. Try to keep new players, who are still learning how to play, in a mastery orientation.

That makes sense.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 2/19/14 8:39:31 PM Permalink

Another interesting paper referencing material related to Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness. The original material they refer to is in a book I don't have access to: S. Rigby and R. Ryan, Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound, Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 2011.

My favorite bit is

This framework suggests that there are three major factors affecting motivation and engagement in computer games. These factors are: competence, which they defined as the “innate desire to grow our abilities and gain mastery of new situations and challenges;” autonomy, which they define as the “need to reflect our innate desire to take action out of personal volition and not because we are controlled by circumstances or by others;” and relatedness, which they defined as “our need to have meaningful connections to others.”

which sounds an awful lot like AMP!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/26/14 1:06:50 PM Permalink

It sounds a lot like AMP because AMP is akin to gravity—which seems overtly obvious but wasn't until someone explained it (as if I actually understand how mass bends spacetime).

Autonomy and mastery (or competence) are the D'oh! pair—overtly obvious—but purpose (or relatedness) is the real driver in the equation. That's what adds orders of magnitude to the outcome.

Purpose (or relatedness) makes it the task both relevant and meaningful—something school typically isn't.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 2/6/14 9:12:11 PM Permalink

Heh - just realized that the reverse is PMA - the insidious Procrastination, Mediocrity and Apathy Legion. They must be stopped! On with the power of AMP!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/6/14 9:47:26 PM Permalink


I'm so stealing that!

Matthew Miller

Posted on 2/7/14 9:52:01 AM Permalink

How can it be stealing when I give it away for free? ;-) I'm happy you liked it - this is going to be the beginnings of the framework for my Digital Media Design class next year. My brain hasn't stopped spitting out related bits since I thought of this.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 2/4/14 7:56:31 PM Permalink

One of my students provided a link to this really interesting report by Huffington Post about an experiment in student-lead learning, called the Independent Project (which was also designed by a grade 12 student). We're continuing the conversation. So cool to be provoking thought like this in my students; Mike, this is my first real glimpse of the source of your jubilance in a few posts here and there as you see students really starting to see the truth of AMP. Thanks. :-)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/5/14 5:10:24 AM Permalink

Love it!

And so pleased that you've taken the ball and are experiencing it for yourself. Your students will be forever changed.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 1/28/14 11:03:47 AM Permalink

Matthew Miller

Posted on 1/21/14 7:19:48 AM Permalink

I've decided that I am going to replicate this experiment during the last quarter of my Digital Media Design class (90 days rather than 24 - bit more extended). I was already planning to open it up for a project of their choice; this just provides a great framework to wrap around the whole thing. We'll have semi-public blogs (available, but not advertised) that will be archived for future reference - this will be where the majority of the interesting stuff happens (I expect).

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/21/14 1:34:26 PM Permalink

Can't wait to hear (and see) the results.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 2/3/14 7:02:58 PM Permalink

I couldn't wait. Knowing what I do now, I went ahead and offered the students the option to switch to an AMP based content structure and a World's Simplest Rubric based grading system. Eight of my 12 students in the Digital Graphic Design class leapt at the opportunity. Most are already happily working with the program of their choice, watching tutorials and teaching themselves what they're interested in. Of the other 4, two stuck with the traditional structure (which is still a long shot from a traditional classroom, btw) because they were interested enough in the current project they didn't want to switch. The other two said they were just too uncomfortable with not being graded. Those two are in grade 12, about to leave for college. The culture here (in general, and specifically at this school) focuses heavily on the idea that grades get you into the college you want to go to.

Later this week we'll start with blogging about 'what I've learned this week.' But I'm already sitting with each student for a few minutes each day to look at what they're doing, make suggestions, and help them think about what they're doing. It has been really exciting to see them jump into this with both feet; the enthusiasm and engagement jumped noticeably with this change. <insert picture of me with a cheese eating grin across my face>

And this isn't even gamified in the slightest, yet. Next year it'll be gamified, too. Woot! I can hardly wait.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/3/14 8:29:40 PM Permalink


Such very cool news! What a great adventure for your students.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 2/12/14 2:56:28 PM Permalink

Just had my first two-week review using the World's Simplest Rubric. All I can say is...wow. What a hugely empowering experience. Sitting down with the kids and asking them what their grade was, listening to their answers, and giving them my feedback, was an experience like I've never had in all the years I've been teaching. I felt so...right...so honest...so much more in tune with my integrity. THIS is how I want to manage grading. I know I'm in the honeymoon period with this and I'm sure I'll find things I want to tweak as time goes on, but I am loving it right now.

While nearly all my students really self-assesed well and provided great self-feedback and suggestions for course correction, I did have one student that I disagreed with about his grade. Although he ignored his blog until the last couple minutes before the review, and only paid attention then because I'd emailed all the ones that hadn't yet posted, he felt an A was fully warranted. I let him know that I thought his effort and focus were good, but that the blog was a required part of the AMP version of the class, so I felt he deserved a B. How do you resolve these, Mike? (anyone else using the WSR or similar method, feel free to chime in, too!)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 3/18/14 4:50:40 PM Permalink

The Boss always reserves the right to disagree. Ask pointed questions. If the blog entries have weekly deadlines, filling them out at the last minute is closer to Are you kidding me? than You gave it your all.

Once faced with undeniable evidence of instances of Are you kidding me? a student will gladly accept Great, but...

Make sense?

Matthew Miller

Posted on 3/18/14 8:46:34 AM Permalink

Another few weeks of the WSR and still feeling like this is the best single change I've made in my classroom, ever. Not sure if it would be the same if they didn't also have freedom to select how they want to study the subject, but the combination is magic around here. Having the kids give me what they think their grade is after working diligently on something they care about working on is amazing. Having a weekly conversation with each one about what they're doing and making suggestions about how they can explore it further, or new artists or avenues to investigate, etc. is SO much better than trying to come up with interesting assignments and then standing around with my (virtual) whip, making sure the plantation workers do as they're told (which is really about how I felt about the prior model, no matter how interesting I make the assignments).

I got permission to remodel the classroom to look more like a business, with small-group cubicle type spaces, instead of one big room where it's obviously set up so the teacher can see all the screens at once. So excited; I hope we can build what I'm imagining within this years (really limited) budget, but next year at least, it'll go through. The first question to me, though, was "I don't object in principle (translation: I object in principle, but am willing to listen), but how will you monitor the screens to see if a student is using Facebook, for example?" I explained that I can monitor any of their screens using Apple Remote Desktop.

Then I wondered, privately, if my perspective on this is so radically out-of-norm, because I had a visceral reaction to that question along the lines of one I'd have if someone asked me about techniques for torturing small animals. I was repulsed by the thought of deliberately building the structure of my room and my instruction so I could control students' lives and keep them from doing what all of us adults do all the time. Maybe we don't all check FB constantly, but how about email? How about your iPhone & text messages? Twitter? Every teacher I know is plugged in nearly all the time. For me, students on Facebook indicate that either they're doing what most of us do and splitting their attention between many different strands of their lives, or if it's excessive, my class needs revision because it's not as interesting as their life. Later that week I had a conversation with another of my colleagues that reassured me that I'm not alone in this perspective. Thank goodness.

(I didn't mention that I'm switching to Facebook for my LMS next year because it's so much better than Moodle. The single question that changed my perspective on this: "...do you think they're checking Facebook more often than Moodle?" OH! duh!)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 3/18/14 4:27:43 PM Permalink

Facebook as an LMS?!

I'm wondering if anyone, anywhere has tried this... So I search and of course some have. The idea, however, blindsided me. Never had I even imagined much less considered the idea. This case study even supports the move.

I'm not much of a Facebook fan, but then again, I wasn't much of a Twitter fan until learning how other educators were using it. Dang! This is a strangely and powerfully compelling strategy, Matthew.

Just read this on Educause:

One of the unexpected results of using Facebook as a learning management system was the type of connection and learning that the platform afforded. Both faculty and students said that Facebook facilitated a fundamentally different interaction and relationship between the instructor and students, and among students.

Freaking mind-expanding!

And as for your reaction to the WSR, I wish others could share your experience and feel your passion. When tied to policies and expectations, the WSR is suddenly rigor-based as well as effort-based. And as you say, when applied in a self-paced, self-directed learning environment, it's almost magically effective in removing any uncertainty and anxiety about one's grade.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 3/19/14 8:19:37 AM Permalink

I'm not much of a Facebook fan, either. I'd avoided all use of it after my initial introduction, other than interaction with family or friends that use nothing else. It seemed like nothing but a time-suck. But that one comment shifted my perspective completely. And a couple great educators at the conference I went to presented a workshop (Dropping the F-bomb in class) that opened my eyes to the possibilities. A Facebook group really does have nearly all the facilities of an LMS that I use; in combination with GameOn, it will be everything I need it to be. I'll likely use it heavily for Yearbook, lightly for Digital Media, and almost never for Intro to programming. The more gamified the course, the less I'll need it. But sending my messages to where the students are just makes too much sense to ignore.

I'd like to explore how to tie the WSR to polices and expectations on the backside a bit more. Here's what I've been doing, I'd like to hear what you do, for comparison, as well as any comments you have. This is an area I want to make sure I nail, so that if an administrator asks, I can easily answer how I'm keeping the class rigorous. I really don't want to ever loose this precious change!

So, I sit with each student at least once between our semi-weekly "So, what's your grade" conversations. I try for weekly, but it doesn't always happen with every student. I sit next to them at their workstation (the WYG convos are at my workstation) and get them to show me what they're working on and explain about it. In most cases so far they're excited to show what it is and explain about the learning they're doing. I offer suggestions for expanding or stretching, or give them ideas for their next project. For example, one student I have has been doing a series of landscapes in Photoshop, expanding his skills with tablet input and his understanding of the various tools in Ps. I'm asking him next to turn one or more of those into a poster using InDesign, to have him stretch out of his comfort zone and work a bit in InDesign with more of the graphics design end. (Then I'm going to ask him to really stretch and do a typography project. :-) In another case, I have a student who is struggling to find a project. He's interested in architecture, so I suggested that he look into building illustrations based on buildings he likes, or creating building illustrations out of other forms. He decided he'd prefer to work in Photoshop for now, so I suggested he choose a building to work with and use photoshop to place it into a larger illustration that would be a contrast. I pointed him at some tutorials to help him make it look like it belongs there. We'll see how it goes.

What I haven't been doing is giving any feedback based on the principles of design, etc. Nothing formalized, because I was trying to avoid turning it back into an "assignment." I'm starting to think that I need to build something like an improvement checklist, that I can use as an evaluative tool each time I sit with them. I've been giving my feedback based on my understanding of design, but that would give me something I could use as a reference to the broader discipline and help them improve their skills, using traditional terminology they'll encounter in future classes.

How do you tie them together?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 3/19/14 3:16:24 PM Permalink

How do you tie them together?

With an extra sentence. :)

The formative assessment you're using is solid; it's more of a nudge than a judge (if you know what I mean). As for principles of design, etc. you can incorporate them into every nudge with something like:

Me: How did you decide on that color scheme? It looks like you just picked some random colors.

Student: I tried to find colors that would look good together.

Me: Why don't you try using color harmonies?

Student: What are color harmonies?

Me: That's a good question. What are color harmonies? (Loud enough for everyone to hear.) I walk away still talking—again, loud enough for everyone to hear—about how their teacher should be fired because his students don't know what color harmonies are.

The kids have heard exchanges like that all year long. The student Googles color harmonies. Typically, many other students look it up at that point, too. Then they look at each other's work with new eyes.

Long-term learning objectives are what it's all about. Well, for me at least.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 3/20/14 6:26:34 AM Permalink


Mike strikes again! Do you feel it on that side of the world when you send out lightning like that and it strikes me on this side? :-)

This is the extension approach I've been trying for, without really seeing how it would play out. This conversation and the bits you outlined below have really helped me see how I might shape the conversations I have with my students. And the philosophic link to explain the foundation of the approach! - man the PD here is just about the best thing ever. OK, enough slavish hero worship. ;-)

Thank you.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 3/19/14 4:10:05 PM Permalink

Just realized I didn't really answer the question completely.

After nudge after nudge after nudge, and the student still chooses not to listen or learn, that detail enters the informal, formal assessment conversation. You gave it your all now includes acting on those nudges. This is where No second effort comes into play.

And that's where the But you don't teach us any of this counter argument sometimes arises. And that turns the conversation toward the necessity of acquiring lifelong learning skills. That's what I'm trying to teach you.

That's sometimes a real turning point for a student. Now we're at Great, but...


From a summer of 2009 blog post:

Of all the lessons in the Mac Lab, the most important have nothing to do with media arts. The most consistent, persistent lessons I teach revolve around personal responsibility and doing the right thing. (Remember, my favorite quote is Richard Bach’s: You teach best what you most need to learn.) I make no secret of the fact that I was a surly, arrogant, know-it-all (or at least I thought I did) or that I made foolish choices in high school. Above all else, I try to teach the kids to be responsible, reliable, moral, ethical, honest, dedicated, hard-working individuals. I encourage them to dream, to choose wisely, to learn from their mistakes, and to just do something! Above all, I try to persuade them to look within, to search for what it is they want to do in life, to find their bliss and work to make it a part of their individual lives.


And in the long run, that lesson is far more important than knowing all about color harmonies.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 3/19/14 8:45:42 AM Permalink

Thanks for the resource links - those are great.

Off topic - Rant -

I've been objecting to the use of the word "rigor" lately. The definition, according to one online dictionary, fairly representative of the range, is:

1: (a) harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (b) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (c): severity of life : austerity (d) : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty

2 : a tremor caused by a chill

3 : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold

4 : strict precision : exactness <logical rigor>

I don't know about you, but these are not, in general, descriptions I'd want to use with regard to my classroom, my teaching style, etc. I do understand that we're using it more and more in America to refer to strength of curriculum and pedagogy. But the underlying connotation of harsh inflexibility, of strictness, is not, in my opinion, the direction I want to steer peoples' perceptions of education. Just the opposite, in fact.


Mike Skocko

Posted on 3/19/14 2:44:30 PM Permalink

+1 on rigor rant :)