Thursday, July 28, 2011

Professor Shaughnessey; Houston, Texas

July 28, 2011 8:05 am

An Interview with Will Fitzhugh:
Concord Review
Authors on Television [CNN]

Michael Shaughnessy, EducationViews Senior Columnist on July 28, 2011 in Commentaries

Michael F. Shaughnessy, Ph.D.

Eastern New Mexico University, 
Portales, New Mexico

1) Will, I understand that CNN broadcast a feature on U.S. History in the schools at 8:45am EST on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. How did this come about ?

A producer at CNN wanted to do a story on the sad performance of American students on the NAEP test of U.S. History, and thought that it would be useful to include The Concord Review and its authors in the discussion. The piece was short and superficial and mirrored well how we neglect history (and academic expository writing) in American education.

2) It seems that this feature included a (very brief) interview with one of the high school authors whose history research papers were published by The Concord Review in recent issues. Do you keep track of these authors?

I work alone and cannot keep track of most of the authors I publish. They have active, mobile lives, and I don’t have the time or energy to keep after them for information. I used to have support for the Concord Review Society, our alumni effort, but after a couple of years the angel who provided funding for that flew away.

3) How long has The Concord Review been in existence and what do you hope to accomplish?

The Concord Review was founded in March of 1987, and in August of that year I sent a brochure asking for history research papers to every high school in the United States and Canada and 1,500 schools overseas. My goal has been to find and recognize exemplary secondary student work in history and then to distribute it as widely as possible to show other HS students the serious papers of their peers. We have now published 956 by students from 44 states and 38 other countries.

4) Will, I have read past issues of The Concord Review, and I have to say that with each issue, you assemble some of the finest academic writing I have ever seen. How do you do it?

I don’t do it, of course. The students do it, and they have been raising the standards every year since I started the journal. My secret is the same that works in athletics. Show young people the exemplary accomplishments of their peers and they will strive to meet and exceed them. The standards have been going up every year, but they are academic expository writing standards set by our authors, not by me.

5) Further, the topics cover everything from the Renaissance to the American to the French to the Russian Revolution and everything in between! It seems that these writers are young aspiring historians. How many go on to actually write a history book?

Some go on to major in history at Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale and so on, but even physics and pre-med majors can sometimes write first-class history papers. We don’t reward history the way we do student work in STEM, but I like to think that our authors will continue to write well and perhaps read history for the rest of their lives.

6) Recently you did a special South Korean issue—having been to Seoul, and actually all of the Universities in South Korea, I know they treasure and value education. Can you brief us on some of the papers from South Korea?

The First Special Korean Issue was the result of the work of Caroline Lee, a South Korean very concerned about the English expository writing skills of Korean students who want to attend American independent schools and selective American universities. She felt that while Korean students put serious and successful efforts into math and science and objective tests, many underestimate the work they need to do to become fluent in English expository writing. So she worked with me to produce the Korean issue, which has seven (of eleven) papers by Asian students, but only two by Korean students studying in the United States. Others were by a student from Singapore and one from Japan, and the rest from students at schools here.

7) Is there any one high school that seems to consistently produce exemplary papers of historical relevance?

I can think of several I can count on for a steady stream of excellent papers: Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland, Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York, Hunter College High School in New York, the Ellis School in Pittsburgh, and more recently, the University of Chicago Laboratory High School in Chicago, among several others.

8) Obviously, you rely on principals and teachers to encourage students. Is there any one parent, principal or teacher who deserves recognition?

Robert Hines of Richard Montgomery, Broeck Oder of Santa Catalina School, Steven Houser of Horace Greeley, Paul Horton of the Chicago Lab High School, Ric Bisset of Singapore American School, and a number of others, of course.

9) Subtle question—but what is the impact of having been published in The Concord Review?

For high school students who are published, there is the pride and satisfaction of knowing their academic paper meets the standard of the only journal in the world for such work at the secondary level. Their success usually leads to more confidence and then on to greater efforts to achieve academically in school and later in college. The prestige of being published in The Concord Review has been compared to that of being a finalist in the Intel or Siemens Science Competitions, which are much, much better funded, of course.

10) How can readers, historians, and librarians assist you in your endeavors?

Historians, and Upper Education History Professors, with one or two exceptions, have shown no interest in the exemplary work in history by students in Lower Education, but every reader, teacher and librarian who subscribes is voting for the survival of this unique journal and its efforts to recognize, distribute, and encourage exemplary academic expository writing among secondary students all over the world.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Volume 21 Emerson Prizes

2012 Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [Volume 21]

Ayana Gray, Pulaski Academy, Little Rock, Arkansas, Fall 2010
Female Infanticide

Eric Keen, Homescholar, Bethesda, Maryland, Summer 2011
Anglo-Afghan War

Maya Krishnan, Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, Maryland, Fall 2010
Socialist Realism

Caitlin Lu, Chinese International School, Hong Kong, Spring 2011
Matteo Ricci

Jonathan Lu, Chinese International School, Hong Kong, Summer 2011
The Needham Question

Matthew C. Weinstein, Belmont Hill School, Belmont, Massachusetts, Winter 2010
Lodges vs. Kennedys

Saturday, July 9, 2011



Will Fitzhugh, Founder, The Concord Review

Secondary students should read history, think about it, and learn to write serious research papers, not only to prepare themselves for higher education, but also to get ready for the nonfiction reading and expository writing tasks they will meet in their careers.

I started The Concord Review in 1987 to recognize exemplary academic expository writing by secondary students and to inspire others to read history and to improve their own nonfiction writing abilities.

We have now published 956 history research papers by students from 44 states in the United States and from 38 other countries. These include a number of very good papers by South Korean students, some now at school in the United States and some at school in Korea.

In 2010, Caroline Lee began to work towards the first issue of this journal to be published in another country. In July of this year, she produced the First Special Korean Issue of The Concord Review, with essays from Japan and Singapore, and from Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. Four of the authors won our Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes. These students are now attending Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale and Williams, among other colleges.

Caroline Lee, as Managing Editor of this issue, will be donating copies to a number of South Korean secondary schools, with the goal of inspiring their students to do more nonfiction reading and academic expository writing in the international language of English.

I welcome essay submissions from South Korean secondary students writing in English on any historical topic, ancient or modern, domestic or foreign. The submission form may be found on the website of The Concord Review at My email address is:, and I welcome questions and comments from secondary students, their teachers, and any others interested in history and in serious academic writing.