On the drive home from VCU today, Gardner’s wife Alice was sharing some research she was doing on old music manuscripts, some of which had markups written on them. She asked if we knew where the word “rubric” comes from – as we should, since rubrics are those necessary instruments (to some) for teaching.

Well, as it turns out it comes from a word meaning “red” for the annotation of documents– from Wikpedia, the etymology

Root: Red, red ochre, red ink. Usage: Rubric refers to decorative text or instructions in medieval documents that were penned in red ink.

or from the Oxford Dictionary:

late Middle English rubrish (originally referring to a heading, section of text, etc., written in red for distinctiveness), from Old French rubriche, from Latin rubrica (terra) ‘red (earth or ocher as writing material)’, from the base of rubeus ‘red’; the later spelling is influenced by the Latin form.

So a word meant to provide sections or directions in a document to the magic instrument of assessment, or again from Wikipedia:

In modern education circles, rubrics have recently (and misleadingly) come to refer to an assessment tool. The first usage of the term in this new sense is from the mid-1990s, but scholarly articles from that time do not explain why the term was co-opted. Perhaps rubrics are seen to act, in both cases, as metadata added to text to indicate what constitutes a successful use of that text.

But enough definitions, my free form association went to little Danny in the Shining muttering repeatedly “redrum” and the message he writes for his mom IN RED INK. And that if you spell RUBRIC backwards… you still get RUBRIC (in my world).

Or maybe KUBRICK.

It’s all connected.

I could not let go of this until I did a little mashup video.

Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric.
Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric.
Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric.
Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric. Rubric.
Rubric. Rubric. Rubric.
Rubric. Rubric.
Rubric.

And it circles back to this little metaphor I spotted in the stairwell at VCU.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Test & Drain.

Yep.

The post "Rubric" was originally pushed out of the bottom of a purple jar of Play-Doh at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2014/06/rubric/) on June 9, 2014.

2 Comments

  • RovingLibrarian justmusing.net

    That is terrifying.

  • Sandy Brown Jensen blogs.lanecc.edu/mindonfire

    Now I did not know that!
    The use of rubrics in composition instruction really is an effort to quantify and control that spontaneous voice of natural language students bring out of the wild into the government corral.
    And it coms from monks chained to their chairs marking in red ink…
    reminds me of Buckminster Fuller who wanted to change the word “sunset” to “sunclipse” because it was more scientifically accurate. He said medieval notions are embedded in our minds through language, that we have to surface and modernize words that hold us in superstition…might “rubric” be one such word?
    Well blogged!

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