Teaching and rigor

Great teachers understand a simple truth – a great teacher’s most important role is to inspire her student to learn the subject.

To facilitate this, great teachers often enforce a lot of rigor. For example, one of the best teachers I know used to assign a lot of thought provoking pre-work and expected us to come to class fully prepared (and we did). Another refused to let anyone in after the class started. And, yet another – this time at work – put extraordinary emphasis on never using a pie chart.

The purpose of this rigor is to remove all the noise that can get in the way of understanding and appreciating the subject/skill at hand. Appreciation speeds up understanding and understanding inspires more appreciation.

And, once a student makes it past the rigor to understand and appreciate what she is learning, there’s no turning back.

Rigor is a powerful tool to inspire focus.