Thursday, March 11, 2010


Portmanteau (pronounced port-MAN-toe) is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings from two other words. Some common examples include smog (smoke + fog), brunch (breakfast + lunch) and telethon (telephone + marathon). Perhaps the most popular are those used to identify famous Hollywood couples. Who hasn't heard the terms "Brangelina," "TomKat," and "Bennifer"?

Portmanteaus seem to be ginormous right now, so I 've decided to create my own...
Fregor (freedom +rigor)

I'll admit, it seems strange to want to put these two words together. In fact, freedom and rigor would probably be listed as antonyms in a dictionary. It's true that on the surface these words don't have much in common.

However, when you dig a little deeper, there does seem to be a connection. When I really started to think about what rigor is and what it isn't, I actually began to think of rigor AS freedom.

When you watch students involved in a rigorous learning activity, you notice that they have all kinds of freedom. They have the freedom to explore and create. They have the freedom to take risks and to fail. They have the freedom to agree or disagree.

On his Speed of Creativity podcast, Wes Fryer makes a case against the word rigor. As he so cleverly points out, other words for rigor include inflexibiltiy, stringency, and cruelty. Why, then, would we want these words as defining characteristics of our educational system? "Differentiation and flexibility," Wes says, are things we need to embrace.

Rigor, as defined in the dictionary, is not what we want in our classrooms. What we want is FREGOR!

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