I am really bad about using a word without knowing its exact definition. I tend to go with my 'sense' of a word rather than looking it up in the dictionary.
I have heard the word 'rigorous' used as a description of something to be desired in the homeschool a lot recently. I keep feeling jarred when it is used. I guess my sense of the word 'rigorous' just doesn't fit what I want for my kids. And yet I don't want them to slack and slide through life the easy way. I want them to do hard things. What bothers me about the word 'rigorous'? I decided to look it up.
One definition of 'rigorous' is 'full of rigors.' 'Rigor' can be defined as 'a harsh or trying circumstance. '
Synonyms for 'rigor' include: burdensome, onerous, oppressive, arduous...
I think sometimes we use the term 'rigorous' when we really mean 'challenging. ' 'Challenging' is defined as "calling for full use of one's abilities or resources in a difficult but stimulating effort" or "absorbing; intriguing". AO/HEO definitely provides an educational challenge, but I don't consider it a harsh one. I want my kids to have to use all of their abilities in school, but I don't want to beat them down with it. To me, 'rigor' is too strong a word to indicate what we do at our house. 'Challenge' fits just right, but perhaps it has been overused.
(My definitions came from Answers.com. )