Today’s column honors two heroes: a teacher, now in his 70s, and a school senior in her teens. Teacher Will Fitzhugh, and Woodbury East Ridge High School senior Anushua (Shua) Bhattacharya are connected because of the outstanding paper that Bhattacharya wrote. Fitzhugh has published it in the latest issue of The Concord Review. www.tcr.org Because I believe so strongly in what these two have accomplished, later in the column I’m offering to pay half of a school’s subscription to this journal of student writing.
After teaching for a decade, Fitzhugh decided, in 1987, that he wanted to give more attention to excellent academic work, specially outstanding writing in history. He wrote, “Varsity athletics and athletes are celebrated everywhere. We celebrate Varsity Academics®.”
Fitzhugh rightly points out that while the Internet has a vast array of information, “…there is no better way to comprehend, consider, and digest information for oneself than to write a serious paper.” He has urged a “page per year” plan. First graders would write a page, with one reference, eighth graders eight pages with eight references, etc.
Since 1987, The Concord Review, published quarterly, has published more than 980 essays from students in 46 states and 38 countries. It’s a remarkable, unique publication.
Shua’s essay, leads the current Concord Review, joining others written by students from California to New York and Korea.
Her essay asks whether “…the United States under Franklin Roosevelt (could) have saved more Jews.” Her “visit to the Holocaust Museum provoked me to study this question.” Her answer is “yes!” Her essay is ““Dedicated to those who might have been saved.”
After high school, Shua hopes to “major in Neuroscience…and be immersed in some Shakespearean or Classic Literature.”
She wrote this paper for Darren Reiter’s 2010-11Advanced Placement World History class, at East Ridge High School. Reiter believes “Shua is an amazing young adult with limitless potential. “ Gretchen Romain, Assistant Principal calls Shua “a leader within her class and the school… she one of the strongest academic students I have encountered. “
Bhattacharya and Fitzhugh are united in their quest for excellence.
Ten years ago, Fitzhugh contracted with the University of Connecticut to interview 400 randomly selected history teachers around the country. They found
- 95% of teachers surveyed believed writing a research term paper is important or very important
- 62% of teachers never assign a paper of 3,000 – 5000 words
- 81% never assign a paper of over 5000 words
He readily acknowledges that reading and commenting on such papers takes time. He has urged schools to provide time for educators to review and comment on them.
Having assigned and graded research papers in high school and college classes, I agree with Fitzhugh that such papers are valuable, and require a major commitment from an educator, as well as students. So I think the responsibility for research papers should be spread out among teachers. No teacher should be expected to review and comment on more than one class set per semester.
Because I believe so strongly in honoring outstanding student academic work, and in The Concord Review (TCR), here’s an offer: for the first ten people who contact me, I’ll pay half of the $40 one year (4 issue) TCR subscription for a school. Fitzhugh also offers a 40% discount for class sets of 26 or more.
Great research writing deserves just as much attention as great goaltending.