Perhaps it comes in the form of a perfect writing prompt, when you see a student’s eyes light up, their pencil start furiously scribbling. Maybe it happens as a student watches a chemical reaction take place in the science lab, or while they’re discussing today’s news in connection with the Civil Rights movement, or as they are guided through a museum and asked to compare the techniques of various artists. As an educator, I know it when I see it: the moment when a student reaches the fine line between challenge and frustration. It occurs when students are interested in the material, supported enough to keep up with the work, and challenged enough that they have to learn and practice new skills. This is when students grow, and when they make true progress.
Today, this “aha” moment has become the definition of academic rigor.