SOFT Is the New Hard

I’ve been working on a blog piece titled, “With Rigor and Mortis for All.” It’s about the dangers of applying the word rigor to classroom instruction. I’m trying to take a serious tone with the piece. I want to be scholarly and give the subject the serious analysis it deserves. I intend to use Cris Tovani’s discourse on rigor in her book So What Do They Really Know as my guide.
The problem is I keep meandering all over the canvas. I’ve been touched on everything from standardized tests to Lexile levels. From the Common Core State Standards to tenure reform.
It’s a mess.
The internet is full of messy blogs, and I don’t intend to let mine join the crowd.
I was considering how to revise my work into something unified, coherent and stable. I recalled a Youtube video in which Penny Kittle relates a bit of writing advice she ever received from the late Donald Graves. The language is a bit shocking, coming from Graves and Penny. I’ve included a link to  the video here. Don’t click on the link if you are going to be offended by an F-bomb.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm5RhYsyjK4

Graves told Kittle that a piece of writing should say one f*#$^ing thing. In my blog piece, I have been trying to say a dozen bleeping things about rigor, just like Penny had tried to say too many things in her piece.
Now that I understand my mistake, I can take another swing at “With Rigor and Mortis for All.” I plan to take one of Tovani’s contrasts between work that is hard and work that is rigorous and expand on it with specific applications to classroom instruction.
That’s nice, I’m sure you are thinking. But can’t you do that without telling us about it?
Of course not.
Because in discovering the need to go SOFT, I’ve learned something about rigor.
Narrowing, focusing, clarifying, is rigorous work.
As an internet writer, I’m often asked to survey topics. I gather a variety of ideas from various sources. In doing so, I skim the surface of issue that are sometimes extremely complex. I distilled books into paragraphs and whittle theses down down to phrases. It’s not all that hard. I do it all the time. And I’ll continue to do as long as people are willing to pay me. Journalism is mercenary.
But as a blogger, I owe reader’s depth. I need to dive rigorously down into the narrow spaces. Every blog piece needs to say one thing.
Because, ironically, SOFT is rigorous.
And in that lesson is the subject for a blog of its own.

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