Will Fitzhugh: Students aren't getting a comprehensive education

Historians in the News

When high schools are indifferent about complete works of nonfiction and 5,000-word term papers, Will Fitzhugh says any claim that students are getting a comprehensive education is fiction. He also believes that too much time, money and energy are spent on methods and theories of education instead of content. And that “edu-pundits” should change their focus from teacher performance to student performance.

Mr. Fitzhugh is trying to solve a problem that costs billions of dollars annually—and the ill-prepared a college education.

Fitzhugh publishes The Concord Review (www.tcr.org <http://www.tcr.org>; ), a quarterly academic journal that highlights history research papers and essays by high school students [from 35 countries since 1987], some from this region. He also has founded or works with other organizations to improve education.

Whenever high schools resist adding complete nonfiction books to the curriculum, he somewhat jokingly labels the condition “bibliophobia”—a dread of books. Schools typically ask that only parts of them be read, he says.

Fitzhugh conducted a study of U.S. public schools to determine how many history term papers are assigned. About 95 percent of teachers said writing term papers is important but 81 percent never assigned 5,000-word papers (roughly the average size of typical term papers), he says. About 62 percent never even assigned 3,000-word papers, he says.

“Most say they don’t have time,” he says about the teachers’ excuses. “A lot didn’t do it themselves or don’t think it's necessary. A lot complain they have no time to work on or correct papers. Schools don’t attach enough importance to do it.”...

comments powered by Disqus