3 R’s: Relationships, Relevance, Rigor

Source: P21 blog, date indeterminate

 The other day I gave a presentation to a group from Academia. I asked a volunteer to name the 21st Century’s “3 Rs”.  The automatic answer came in the prescribed order.  “Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships”. I immediately said, “Whoever came up with this statement got it backwards. The 3 R’s should be ‘Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor’.” Then I continued. “If a relationship is forged first, the student cares and knows the teacher cares and will do anything for that teacher. When there is relevance, there is intrinsic motivation and interest from the students. They are not bored out of their minds tuning-out and turning-off listening to lectures, working on meaningless worksheets, and repeating verbatim out of a textbook. Once teachers have accomplished these two R’s, then they can push rigor and have a much better chance for success.”

Let’s encourage students to move about, think independently, collaborate, use technology, research the world, and publish their work, videos, pictures, and products for the world to see. Students need to do this daily, all day long, not just with one or two creative teachers in one project per year. Students take pride in products that are an extension of their creativity and they always want to tell their story. We need to provide this opportunity for all kids.

We need the highest levels of the systems that mandate to the schools to make this shift, give our schools a real opportunity to demonstrate how far they can go when the teachers and students have passion and are engaged in relevant projects that promote communication and relationships. As Ray Kurzweil, one of our nation’s leading and most prominent entrepreneurs and futurists stated, “it takes passion to create knowledge that has value.”


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