The Five R’s of Education

Let’s take a little trip back in time, about 16 years, to 2005.  At that time, I attended a conference of the International Center for Leadership in Education ( held in Nashville, TN.  Willard R. Daggett, Ed.D., is Founder and Chairman of the organization, which advocates for a framework of Rigor and Relevance in the classroom.  It was a time before Common Core curriculum was one of the hot topics of the day, and state educational testing had just emerged as a result of the “No Child Left Behind” initiatives of the Bush administration which were signed into law in January of 2002.

Several years later, in 2008, Bob Lenz, Co-Founder of Envision Education, and Executive Director of the Buck Institute for Education in Novato, CA, published an article in Edutopia which added two more R’s, namely “Relationships” and “Results” (

In 2014, ICLE published a white paper on Achieving Academic Excellence which speaks to the continued importance of Rigor and Relevance in today’s curriculum design.

In a systems thinking framework, since “Results” are, well, results, they’re not an element of the system, but rather the “result” or “overarching principle” of the system created by these three elements – Rigor, Relevance and Relationships.

But there are at least five elements that create a complete system.  The fourth is somehow part of the other three, while the fifth is the “glue” that holds the system together, and is an element that is usually so obvious that we miss it.  With that in mind, consider these Five R’s of Education:

  • Rigor
  • Relevance
  • Relationships
  • Responsibility
  • Respect

Note that the last two elements address issues regarding bullying, discipline and a host of other items that teachers and administrators deal with on a daily basis.

Further, today’s children may not be learning these traits from their parents, as evidenced by watching how parents are currently behaving when the school issues a masking mandate.  Isn’t it interesting that schools want to provide a safe and caring environment, and now it’s the parents trying to bully the teachers and administrators into getting their way.  Someone’s got to teach the students what respect means, and from the learning, see “Results.”