Dear Commons Community,
Today’s NY Times has an article entitled, Journal Showcases Dying Art of the Research Paper. It covers the story of William H. Fitzhugh, the publisher of a journal, The Concord Review, that showcases high school research papers, which he says is a dying breed in our nation’s schools. The term paper was once an important feature of American secondary education, requiring students to dig deeply and write at length. Mr. Fitzhugh said that most public school teachers have stopped assigning such papers — a shift that he attributed mostly to the fact that teachers have so many students and so little time. He recently asked the head of a history department at a New Jersey high school if he assigned research papers. “Not anymore,” Mr. Fitzhugh quoted the teacher as saying. “I have my kids do PowerPoint presentations.” Mr. Fitzhugh said he scoffs when some educators argue that research papers have lost relevance because Google has put so much knowledge just keystrokes away. One of the interesting comments in the article referred to a concern that some educators may see The Concord Review as a showcase only for an elite. All but four of the 22 essays published in the two most recent issues, for example, were by private school students. But might the issue here be that our public schools (many underfunded) are where over-enrolled classes mitigate against long writing assignments.