Thursday, July 25, 2019


 Excerpt from:

Professor William M. McClay
“Reunifying History in the Age of Fracture”
NAS Academic Questions, Spring 2018, 48-61

The chief purpose of a high school education in American history is not the development of critical thinking and analytic skills, although the acquisition of such skills is vitally important; nor is it the mastery of facts, although a solid grasp of the factual basis of American history is surely essential; nor is it the acquisition of a genuine historical consciousness, or an ability to “think like a historian,” the current Holy Grail among many theorists of historical pedagogy, although that certainly would be nice to have too, particularly under the present circumstances, in which historical memory seems to run at about fifteen minutes, especially in the young.

No, the chief purpose of a secondary school education in American history is something different. It is a rite of civic membership, an act of inculcation and formation, a way in which the young are introduced to the fullness of their political and cultural inheritance as Americans, enabling them to become literate and conversant in its many features, and to appropriate fully all that it has to offer them, both its privileges and its burdens. It is to make its stories theirs, and thereby let them come into the possession of the common treasure of its cultural life. In that sense the study of history is different from any other academic subject. It is not merely a body of knowledge. It also ushers the individual person into membership in a common world, and situates him in space and time. As in Plato’s great allegory of the cave, it ushers him into the light of day, into a public world, into a fuller and more capacious identity.


This is most especially true in a democracy. The American Founders, and perhaps most notably Thomas Jefferson, fully grasped that no popular government could flourish for long without an educated citizenry, one that understood the special virtues of republican self-government, and the civic and moral duty of citizens to uphold and guard it. As the historian Donald Kagan has put it, “Democracy requires a patriotic education,” and it does so for two reasons. First, because its success depends upon the active participation of its citizens in their own governance, and second, because without an education, there would be no way to persuade free individuals of the occasional need to sacrifice the pursuit of their self-interest for the sake of the greater good.

Friday, July 19, 2019


The Nemo Curriculum Program©

The HS history student who wrote the attached letter was a beneficiary, like many others, of our unique and amazing Nemo Curriculum Program (NCP). 

I never met her, talked to her, or sent her mailings or emails. She found out about The Concord Review, chose her historical topic, did the research for it, outlined a paper, wrote the paper, proofread it, and submitted it.

All we did was publish it. All the work was hers, but she felt so good about doing it that she gave some credit to TCR. This is the magic of our Nemo Curriculum Program. (

Our motto is: “Where there’s a Way (to earn recognition) there’s a Will (to work for it).” We plan to bring the benefits of the NCP to as many more HS history students in the future as we possibly can...


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

Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,

I am writing to tell you how thrilled I was to learn that my essay (“America and the Invisible Hand: The Influence of Adam Smith on the American Economy”) was selected for publication in the upcoming Summer issue of The Concord Review. I want to thank you for the opportunity you have given me and other young writers to be published.

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. The skills that I have acquired from completing my paper for The Concord Review will be invaluable in the continuation of my education, and I cannot thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to undertake such an endeavor. The Concord Review has truly been an inspiration to me and I wish you tremendous luck in its continuing success.

Kaitlin Marie Bergan
Northern Highlands Regional High School
Allendale, New Jersey

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


An Interview with Will Fitzhugh: The Concord Review 
—an outlet for Exceptional History Students
July 16, 2019 by Education News; Houston, Texas
Michael F. Shaughnessy, EducationViews Senior Columnist
1) Will, here we are in the middle of the summer—and some teachers are preparing to teach history, social studies, economics—and [a very few] preparing to assign major term papers. But where are the outlets for these students’ good works?
National History Day accepts history papers of not more than 10 pages and it doesn’t publish any. The average paper in recent issues of The Concord Review was 36 pages long, and we recently published a paper on the U.S. election of 1916 that was 84 pages, including 355 endnotes and a bibliography, and the author will be at Oxford in the Fall. The National Writing Project prefers students to write about themselves, and in general the Adolescent Literacy Community would like students to confine themselves to reading and writing only fiction, not history.
2) Let’s talk about the personality traits that make a good historian and good writer of history—what are they?
It is important in any field to be diligent and literate. A good High School student of history is curious about some historical person or event and reads enough about it until they reach the point at which they really want to tell others what they have learned. This is the most important step on the path to an exemplary history research paper. We have published 1,329 of them from 41 countries in the 121 issues of The Concord Review since 1987—see some at
3) “No Shortcuts” is your recent statement. You and I know that good writing requires good research, writing, editing and polishing. Are teachers teaching these skills however?
“No Shortcuts” was a motto of the extraordinary California teacher Rafe Esquith. We borrowed it to point out that no one can do the reading for or the writing of a serious history research paper for the student. The student must do all their own work. For the most part, Social Studies Teachers have neither the training nor the inclination to assign serious history papers, so they don’t. More and more of our best essays were done as independent studies, often by students who have read or heard about the work of their peers that was published in The Concord Review.  And sometimes the teacher knows nothing about them.
4) In your most recent edition of The Concord Review—what were some of the researched topics?
In recent issues, we have had papers on Vietnamese Refugees, the Trans-Siberian Railroad, Bleeding Kansas, the Northern Wei Dynasty, Superfrigates, the Nanking Safety Zone, John Wilkes, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and the Caste System, among scores of other interesting historical topics. We don’t tell students what to write about and we don’t tell them how long their papers should be.
5) Where have some of your high school students, who have published in The Concord Review matriculated to?
151 have gone to Harvard, 113 to Yale, 82 to Stanford, and the like, but a few have gone to Caltech, MIT, Oxford, and Cambridge as well. Altogether, 35% have gone to the Ivy League or Stanford so far.
6) What have I forgotten to ask?
There has been a sharp 30% decline in history majors in our colleges. While there have been moves to STEM, economics and the like, too many of our politically correct instructors want to rewrite or erase history rather than teach it, and that turns students away. The absence of nearly all courses in diplomatic, political, and military history persuades many students that the history department is not for them.
In our high schools, Social Studies has long been dominant over history and in many colleges the history department is shrinking almost to the point of extinction. In addition, the vast majority of our high school students who head for college do so having never read even one complete history book or written one serious history research paper, so they are much less well prepared for college work than they should be. 
Feel free to send comments or questions to Will Fitzhugh at

Monday, July 15, 2019


Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
15 July 2019

The principal should say: 

“Good morning, boys and girls, and welcome back from vacation.

This year we will have a school for students who want to work hard. Those who do not want to work hard will be removed. We haven’t worked out where they will go yet, but while they are there, they will not interfere with the education of students who want to work hard in our school. In the new setting, they can choose whether they will take advantage of it, and try to work their way back into our school, but until they are ready to work hard here, they will not be allowed to harm the education of the students we have here who want to work hard on their education. 

Your teachers and the rest of the adults here will work hard to help you as much as we can, but we know that only you can decide how much you want to work and how much you want to learn.

Best wishes to you for a very productive year!

Friday, July 5, 2019


The problem is that students alone still decide how much academic work will get done and how much learning will take place. 

Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
4 July 2019

There are many reasons for the success of the New England Patriots football team. Excellent players have come and gone—Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Adam Vinatieri, and many more—and others keep arriving, while the perennial, Tom Brady, approaches GOAT status in the minds of many fans.

Bill Belichik is universally admired for his strategy and tactics, and his seemingly endless creativity in preparing offensive plans that anticipate and frustrate what an opponent expects the team to do. His fellow coaches of course deserve huge credit as well, along with their player selection, team preparation and training, and so on.

But one motto seems to stand out and to stand for the overriding philosophy of the team for its players: DO YOUR JOB. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But for some reason this provides an example of the attitudes cultivated which have made the team such a success, year after year, Super Bowl after Super Bowl. DO YOUR JOB.

This inspiring idea is, for the most part, missing in our approach to the students in our schools. It has been pointed out that we need students, they have a right to an education, and in addition, they can’t be fired, released, or traded to another team.

But all of the onus in our education theories, systems, and criticism is on the adults: teachers, administrators, curriculum coordinators, consultants, EduPundits and all the rest. The problem is that students alone still decide how much academic work will get done and how much learning will take place. As Shankara said: “Through our own eyes we learn what the moon looks like: how could we learn this through the eyes of others?”

No matter how well-educated, trained, paid, professionally-developed, etc., our teachers are, they simply cannot learn for the students. And yet we seem content with students spending 6 hours each day on social media, with scores of hours each week on sports or extracurricular activities, many hours on video games, and on and on. 

Mark Bauerlein cited “the U.S. Department of Education report entitled NAEP 2004 Trends in Academic Progress. Among other things, the report gathered data on study and reading time for thousands of 17-year -olds in 2004. When asked how many hours they’d spent on homework the day before, the tallies were meager. Fully 26 percent said that they didn’t have any homework to do, while 13 percent admitted that they didn’t do any of the homework they were supposed to [39%]. A little more than one-quarter (28 percent) spent less than an hour, and another 22 percent devoted one to two hours, leaving only 11 percent to pass the two-hour mark.”

He also cited “the University of Indiana High School Survey of Student Engagement. When asked how many hours they spent each week ‘Reading/studying for class,’ almost all of them, fully 90 percent, came in at a ridiculously low five hours or less, 55 percent at one hour or less.”

It seems clear that these efforts by students do not add up to doing their job. And what are the students’ jobs? To come to class on time, and listen to the teacher. To behave well, and do all the homework. To take their own education seriously as their primary job—their main responsibility.

We and they are paying a heavy price for our students not doing their jobs. The majority of our HS graduates read at the seventh grade level, and only 18% could pass the exam to become a United States citizen.

We may feel we are being compassionate and affectionate to allow students to spend as little time as they do on their primary job, but most of the consequences fall on them, no matter how wonderful our lack of pressure on them may make us feel. We are forcing them to be on a losing team, by failing, over and over and over again, to tell them: DO YOUR JOB.