History Teachers Wanted

Will Fitzhugh, via a kind email:

Albert Shanker was a very good friend to The Concord Review almost from the very beginning in 1987. He wrote a number of letters, to the MacArthur Foundation and others, and he spent two of his New York Times columns on comments about the journal. In addition, at a national AFT convention, he scheduled a breakfast meeting for the AFT’s vice presidents, at which I was the only guest, invited to talk about The Concord Review. On that occasion, he told this story: When Jaime Escalante left Los Angeles for a new school in Sacramento, of course the local media took an interest in this nationally famous teacher. They interviewed students, and one ninth grade girl said he was a terrible teacher. “Tell us more!” said the media. And the girl said, “Well, I had a problem with algebra, and I went to Mr. Escalante. He kept me after school several days, and even kept me in on a Saturday morning.” “And what happened?” said the media. And she said: “Well, I finally got it, but he didn’t teach me anything. All he did was make me work!” This was a favorite story of Shanker’s and I heard him tell it again.

I am offering a new kind of professional development for secondary History and Social Studies teachers—one in which they will not be talked to or “taught” in the customary “professional development” way—but instead one in which they will work on serious History papers of their own. This is a new approach, but one which could increase the number of secondary students who will learn to do more of the academic expository writing which, by all reports, they now almost universally cannot do.

Will Fitzhugh
Founder, The Concord Review, Inc. [1987]
Varsity Academics® is our registered trademark.


September 2017—A TCR Academy for Professional Development is offered to secondary History and Social Studies teachers to do the academic expository writing of History research papers themselves. This is new.

We seek $5,000 in Professional Development funds for each of 12 high school History and Social Studies teachers to attend the Pilot residential two-week TCR Academy where they will actually do a serious academic History research paper of their own from July 15 to July 27 in Boston in the Summer of 2018.

Dana Goldstein in The New York Times of August 2, 2017, reported that:
“Three-quarters of both 12th and 8th graders lack proficiency in writing, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress…The root of the problem, educators agree, is that teachers have little training in how to teach writing and are often weak or unconfident writers themselves.”

Jay Mathews, Washington Post Columnist, reported on August 14, 2016, that: “Writing instruction in our schools is terrible. We need to fix it. A new study has found that U.S. schools emphasize the mechanics of writing instead of teaching students to engage with—and enjoy—such assignments…The results are distressing and show that the instruction students are getting—particularly in writing—is deeply inadequate.”

“Interestingly, the United States is home to a program that is, to my knowledge, the world leader in encouraging and assessing the kind of non-fiction writing that is now in greatest demand in the world: The Concord Review, run by Will Fitzhugh.”….Marc Tucker, National Council on Education and the Economy.

Many History teachers completed their college degrees and teacher preparation without ever having written a serious History research paper of their own. Part of the reason so few History term papers are assigned in American high schools is that teachers do not have either the experience or the confidence to provide students with the preparation in nonfiction reading and academic expository writing they need to write such papers.

Over the past four years, The Concord Review Summer Programs have provided academic expository writing instruction in preparing serious academic History research papers of their own for 79 students, from China, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, and from nine American states.

We propose to offer this same experience in writing to a dozen high school History and Social Studies teachers who will work on their own 6,000-word History research paper, with endnotes and bibliography, on a topic of their choice for two weeks in the Summer of 2018. Teachers will be asked to choose a topic, prepare an outline, and find ten sources before the course. During the program they will receive instruction on academic writing and have plenty of opportunity to read for and write on their paper, with the guidance and personal attention of our staff. They can then finish their paper after the course. This is a change from programs which talk about History and writing.

The goal is to give them (in some cases to remind them of) the real pride and satisfaction that comes from their own serious study on and careful writing about an interesting Historical topic that they choose. This should both inspire and prepare them for assigning serious term papers to their own students when they return to their schools.

The Concord Review has been, since 1987, the only academic journal in the world for the History research papers of secondary students, and has now published 1,252 essays in 114 issues, by students from 44 states and 40 other countries.


“We have switched to courses that emphasize reading, research, and writing—you are an inspiration to all of us, keep up the good work.”

Paul Horton, History Teacher, University of Chicago Laboratory High School

“I very much like and support what you’re doing with The Concord Review. It’s original, important, and greatly needed, now more than ever, with the problem of historic illiteracy growing steadily worse among the high school generation nearly everywhere in the country.”

David McCullough, Historian

“Your visit to Singapore has stimulated a great deal of conversation about what our courses will look like next year as well as ways to better prepare our students for university/college. As a direct result of your visit, we are offering a semester course to high school students next year titled: “Writing a Research Paper.” Students will be expected to produce a major research paper at the end (c. 5,000 words).”

Richard Bisset, History Teacher, Singapore American School

“It’s hard for me to say adequately how much I admire and value what The Concord Review has accomplished. It has not only encouraged students to take the writing of history seriously, and significantly raised the level of quality of their historical analysis, but it has encouraged students to take their writing as seriously as their history. The Review is a jewel in the crown of American education.“

Stanley N. Katz, Director, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies,
Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

“As a physicist, I am accustomed to the many initiatives, such as math competitions and physics olympiads, instituted to recognize and promote interest and talent in the sciences among high school students. However, I have always felt that there was no equivalent mechanism to encourage and nurture students in the humanities, and to recognize their accomplishments. The Concord Review strikes me as a simple yet brilliant idea to help fill that gap, and as a very effective way to promote high standards and excellence in the humanities.”

Chiara R. Nappi, Theoretical Physicist, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study

“We wish instead to draw your attention to one of those little starbursts of intelligence sparkling over our dreary educational landscape: The Concord Review. The first and only academic journal dedicated to the work of high school students, The Concord Review has published essays on everything from the sinking of the Lusitania to the Pullman Strike of 1894 and the Harlem Renaissance. Appropriately enough, it is published out of the same town where, more than two centuries back, embattled farmers fired the shot heard ’round the world.”

Bill McGurn, Chief Editorial Writer, The Wall Street Journal

“The leading U.S. proponent of more research work for the nation’s teens is Will Fitzhugh, who has been publishing high school student [history] papers in his Concord Review journal since 1987…“

Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

“The Concord Review offers young people a unique incentive to think and write carefully and well…The Concord Review inspires and honors historical literacy. It should be in every high school in the land.”

the late Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Historian

“Interestingly, the United States is home to a program that is, to my knowledge, the world leader in encouraging and assessing the kind of non-fiction writing that is now in greatest demand in the world: The Concord Review, run by Will Fitzhugh. The Concord Review is a quarterly journal of history research done by high school students from all over the world [41 countries so far]. The quality of the thinking and writing in the papers that appear in The Concord Review is nothing short of remarkable.”

Marc Tucker, President, National Council on Education and the Economy

“We have been glad to have reprints of essays published in The Concord Review, submitted by our applicants over the years, to add to the information we consider in making admissions decisions…All of us here in the Admissions Office are big fans of The Concord Review.”

William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Harvard College

“I applaud you for your dedication to improving education, lifting genuine standards of accomplishment, and maintaining your high ideals for our youth. Almost alone, you have fought to improve the teaching of history, while encouraging young people to write thoughtfully and clearly about the meaning of the past. Your devotion to history, to good writing, to serious reading, and to the potential of young people should be an inspiration to us all. I wish you the best as you continue to promote sound ideas about education. The Concord Review provides a splendid forum for the best student work in history…It deserves the support of everyone in the country who cares about improving the study of history in the schools.”

Diane Ravitch, Research Professor, New York University, Author of Left Back,
The Language Police, Reign of Error, etc.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your splendid journal, The Concord Review. That you are performing a valuable service to American education goes without saying. What I find most remarkable is that the journal is intrinsically worth reading as interesting historical writing and not merely as a celebration of young talent. The articles would delight any professor of history if submitted to an advanced undergraduate class, and the best are of graduate student quality. With each issue I feel better about the future of American education and of our profession.”

Eugene Genovese, late Founding President, The Historical Society

“I wanted to tell you how much I admire the energy, commitment, and vision that have led to The Concord Review. Many people talk about the need for new ways to encourage and engage students. You have actually created a new way to raise students’ standards and their expectations of themselves. Your project deserves study by teachers and students across the country. The Concord Review has done a great service not simply to the students whose essays it publishes but to the cause of American education as a whole. I hope it has a long and prosperous life.”

James Fallows, The Atlantic

“It remains the case that most high school students are never required to write a serious research paper. But now there are 30 years’ worth of Concord Reviews that open a window into an alternative universe. You want to see what high school kids can do? Spend some time with The Concord Review, and prepare to be inspired.”

Jeff Jacoby, Columnist, The Boston Globe