Thursday, September 20, 2012


HS Author Inspiration [samples from letters]

[Albert Shanker understood: (1993) “Publication in The Concord Review is a kind of prize—a recognition of excellence and a validation of intellectual achievement—that could be for young historians what the Westinghouse [Intel] Science Competition is for young scientists. Equally important, the published essays can let youngsters see what other students their own age are capable of and what they themselves can aspire to.”]

Jesse Esch: “Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank you, on behalf of all students who have been called upon to attempt the seemingly insurmountable task of writing an in-depth history paper, for providing us with plentiful examples of good writing and good history.”

Candace Choi: “I attend a public high school with teachers who rarely, if ever, assign any paper that exceeds two thousand words, much less a research paper. Therefore, I am writing my paper as independent research...I thank you for this great opportunity you are providing for high schoolers all around the globe. It is indeed rare to have a publication that showcases works of secondary students.”

Emma Curran Donnelly Hulse: “As I began to research the Ladies’ Land League, I looked to The Concord Review for guidance on how to approach my task. At first, I did check out every relevant book from the library, running up some impressive fines in the process, but I learned to skim bibliographies and academic databases to find more interesting texts. I read about women’s history, agrarian activism and Irish nationalism, considering the ideas of feminist and radical historians alongside contemporary accounts...Writing about the Ladies’ Land League, I finally understood and appreciated the beautiful complexity of history...In short, I would like to thank you not only for publishing my essay, but for motivating me to develop a deeper understanding of history. I hope that The Concord Review will continue to fascinate, challenge and inspire young historians for years to come.”

Shounan Ho: “Although history has always been my favorite subject, I had never written a paper with this extensive research before. After reading the high quality of essays in The Concord Review, I was very inspired to try to write one myself. I thought it was a significant opportunity to challenge and expand my academic horizons. Thus during the summer before my Senior year, I began doing the research for my own paper...”

Samuel Brudner: “No one from my school had ever been published in the Review, and I’ll admit I was unfamiliar with it at first. A little research, however, alerted me to its outstanding quality, and I revisited my paper with my teacher’s suggestions and a sense of the journal’s high standards in mind. After several months of further research and revisions, I completed something I thought would be worth submitting. The process of revision was as transformative for me as it was for my paper, not only better informing me about an important controversy, but also leading me to think very deeply about certain ideas at play in the world. Studying a subject as closely as The Concord Review requires was a valuable experience for me, as I am sure it has been for many students. I cannot thank you enough for motivating me to achieve, and for recognizing the hard work I put into my paper. I am honored to see my paper among the fine examples of terrific historical research published in your journal.”

Kaitlin Marie Bergan: “When I first came across The Concord Review, I was extremely impressed by the quality of writing and breadth of historical topics covered by the essays in it. While most of the writing I have completed for my high school history classes has been formulaic and limited to specified topics, The Concord Review motivated me to undertake independent research in the development of the American Economy. The chance to delve further into a historical topic was an incredible experience for me and the honor of being published is by far the greatest I have ever received. This coming autumn, I will be starting at Oxford University, where I will be concentrating in Modern History.”

Daniel Winik: “As many others have no doubt told you, your publication of The Concord Review is a noble enterprise with tremendous value for young historians....The Concord Review not only recognizes such work but also encourages it. Your publication of my paper has inspired several of my classmates to consider submitting theirs. I can only hope that with your jubilee [50th] issue, you will begin to receive the accolades you deserve. Once more, I thank you for honoring me and for recognizing the work of young historians everywhere.”

Colin Rhys Hill: “Also, for your information, most of the “get into college” publications I read referred to The Concord Review as the “Intel Science Competition” of the humanities and the only serious way to get academic work noticed...”

Antoine Cadot-Wood: “The paper I wrote three years ago for The Concord Review was an undertaking beyond what I had attempted up to that point, and I have continued to write papers on history frequently ever since. The [Emerson] prize will be put to good use, as I embark this week on a six-month trip to China. I will be attending a program to continue to improve my Mandarin, with the goal of being able to use it for research as my college career continues. Thank you for providing me with such a great opportunity during my last year of high school, and I hope that The Concord Review continues to publish for many years more.”

Jessica Leight: “At CRLHS, a much-beloved history teacher suggested to me that I consider writing for The Concord Review, a publication that I had previously heard of, but knew little about. He proposed, and I agreed, that it would be an opportunity for me to pursue more independent work, something that I longed for, and hone my writing and research skills in a project of considerably broader scope than anything I had undertaken up to that point...I likewise hope that the range of academic opportunities and challenges I discovered beyond my school, that contributed to make my experience in secondary school so rewarding and paved the way for a happy and successful career as an undergraduate [summa at Yale] and (I hope) as a graduate student [Rhodes Scholar; Ph.D. in Economics at MIT], will still be available for them. Among those opportunities, of course, is The Concord Review. Twenty or twenty-five years from now, I will be looking for it.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Adolescent Literacy Flim-Flam
Will Fitzhugh

The Concord Review

There is no question that lots of people around the nation are concerned about the literacy of American adolescents. They must be worried about the ability of our students to read and write, one would assume. It might also seem reasonable to take for granted that professionals interested in teen skills in reading books and writing papers would give close attention to those students who are already reading a fair amount of nonfiction and writing really exemplary research papers at the high school level.

At this point, expectations need to be altered a bit. No doubt coaches of Adolescent Sports have a tremendous fascination with the best teen athletes in the country. There are lots of prizes and even scholarships for high school students who perform very well in football, soccer, basketball, baseball, etc., and there are even college scholarships for good teen cheerleaders. We might think it odd if all high school coaches cared about was physical education classes and even in those, only those student/athletes who were most un-coordinated and incompetent. Not that it is unimportant to worry about teens who are overweight and cannot take part in sports, but nevertheless, coaches tend to focus on the best athletes, and colleges and the society at large seem to think that is fine for them to do, and is even their job, some would say.

But when it comes to students who read well and write good term papers, the Literacy Community has no interest in them. It is only able to focus on the illiterate and incompetent among Adolescents, and their professional peers seem to think that is fine for them to do, and is even their real job. And it surely is important for them to help those who need help. They should do research and develop curricula and programs to help teens become more literate. They have been doing this for many decades, and yet more than a million of our high school graduates each and every year are in remedial (non-credit) courses when they are “admitted” (conditionally) to colleges around the country.

Perhaps the current approach to literacy training for young people might deserve a second look. The Chronicle of Higher Education surveyed college professors, 90% of whom reported that they thought the freshmen in their classes were not well prepared in reading, doing research, or writing term papers. Their high school teachers had thought they were well prepared, but college professors didn’t see it that way.

No doubt many of those students had the benefit of the Adolescent Literacy Initiatives of, National Council of Teachers of English, National Writing Project, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), Alliance for Excellent Education, Partnership for Reading, National Adolescent Literacy Coalition, Learning Point Associates, Education Development Center, Council of Chief State School Officers, Scholastic, Adolescent Literacy Coaching Project (ALCP), National Governors’ Association, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Adolescent Literacy Research Network, Adolescent Literacy Support Project, WGBH Adolescent Literacy website, and the International Reading Association, not to mention the many state and local literacy programs, and yet our students’ literacy still leaves a lot to be desired, even if they can graduate from high school.

To me it seems that, unlike coaches, the literacy pros are almost allergic to good academic work in reading and writing by our teens. I am not really sure why that would be the case, but in the last 25 years of working with exemplary secondary students of history from 46 states and 38 other countries, I have not found one single Literacy Organization or Literacy Program which had the slightest interest in their first-rate work, which I have been privileged to publish in 94 issues of The Concord Review so far. They have heard about it, but they don’t want to know about it, as far as I can tell.

It does seem foolish to me, that if they truly want to improve the reading and writing of adolescents, they don’t take a tiny bit of interest in exemplary reading and writing at the high school level, not only in the students’ work, but even perhaps in the work of the teachers who guided them to that level of excellence, just as college coaches are interested in the best high school athletes and of course in their coaches as well.

They could still spend the bulk of their time on grants given them to do “meta-analyses” of Literacy Strategies/Rubrics and the like, but it seems really dumb not to glance once or twice at very good written work by our most diligent teens (the Literate Adolescents).

Of course, I am biased. I believe that showing teachers and students the best term papers I can find will inspire them to try to reach for more success in literacy, and some of my authors agree with me: e.g. “When a former history teacher first lent me a copy of The Concord Review, I was inspired by the careful scholarship crafted by other young people. Although I have always loved history passionately, I was used to writing history papers that were essentially glorified book reports...As I began to research the Ladies’ Land League, I looked to The Concord Review for guidance on how to approach my task...In short, I would like to thank you not only for publishing my essay, but for motivating me to develop a deeper understanding of history. I hope that The Concord Review will continue to fascinate, challenge and inspire young historians for years to come.” Emma Curran Donnelly Hulse, Columbia Class of 2009; North Central High School (IN) Class of 2005......“The opportunity that The Concord Review presented drove me to rewrite and revise my paper to emulate its high standards. Your journal truly provides an extraordinary opportunity and positive motivation for high school students to undertake extensive research and academic writing, experiences that ease the transition from high school to college.” Pamela Ban, Harvard Class of 2012; Thomas Worthington High School (OH) Class of 2008...

But what do they know? They are just some of those literate adolescents in whom the professional adolescent literacy community seems to have no interest.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
455 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022

Will Fitzhugh
Editor, The Concord Review
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776

24 August 2000

Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,

    All hail to The Concord Review—for two reasons in particular.

    First, The Concord Review offers young people a unique incentive to think and write carefully and well. I know how exciting it is when you first see your writings in print. Many years ago, St. Nicholas, a favorite children’s magazine, regularly printed youthful contributions. Among the kids who first saw their words in print in St. Nicholas were Scott Fitzgerald, Samuel Eliot Morison, Ring Lardner, Eudora Welty, Henry R. Luce, E.E. Cummings, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Montgomery Clift and many others (including me). The historian Henry Steele Commager even edited a St. Nicholas anthology. In the same way today, The Concord Review, by providing an outlet for youthful talent, recognizes, stimulates and rewards excellence in writing.

    Equally important, The Concord Review specializes in that most central and vital of subjects, history. As I have written elsewhere, history is to the nation as memory is to the individual. Individuals deprived of memory become disoriented and lost, not knowing where they have been or where they are going; so a nation lacking a sense of its past will be disabled in dealing with its present and its future. History, with its eye cast on a longer past and a longer future, is the best preparation for citizenship, and it is the best preparation for making sense out of this dark and stormy world.

    The Concord Review inspires and honors historical literacy. It should be in every high school in the land.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.