The Death of the High School Research Paper

The Concord Review flashes a light on the state of the research paper in US high schools.
Apparently fewer and fewer high school students are writing history research papers.
81% of teachers never assign a major research paper (longer than 5000 words). Why? Because no one has the time. Not the teacher, and certainly not the student.
We are still trying to teach a mile wide and an inch deep. And these days, even that mile is shrinking.
Here’s one way to spread the load: make the paper a combined project of both the History and English departments. One grade, two classes.
That’s similar to the way they teach classes in India. You have three classes: History, Geography, and Civics, each one of them a full class, but your “Social Studies” grade was an average of all three. Same with Physics, Chemistry and Biology: three classes, one grade under the title “Science.” And these weren’t watered down classes. They were tough slogs, all of them.
The Concord Review celebrates “varsity academics.” Too bad our culture doesn’t.
The TCR Institute asks:
“When was the last time a college history professor made it her business to find out the names and schools of the best high school history students in the United States?
“When was the last time a college basketball coach sat in his office and waited for the admissions office to deliver a good crop of recruits for the team?
“When was the last time a high school history teacher got scores of phone calls and dozens of visits from college professors when he had an unusually promising history student?
“When was the last time a high school athlete who was unusually productive in a major sport heard from no one at the college level?
“Not one of these things happens, for some good reasons and some not-so-good reasons.”
Let me add to this: “A nation without a knowledge of its history is like a tree without roots.” Wasn’t that Marcus Garvey?
Or let’s put it another way: If Dubya had written his history research paper in high school, chances are we would not be in Iraq today.

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