To the Editor:
In response to your obituary of Theodore R. Sizer (“Sizer’s Legacy Seen in Appeal of ‘Personalized’ High Schools,” Oct. 28, 2009):
Mr. Sizer wrote the introduction to the first issue of The Concord Review, the student-written history journal that I founded in the fall of 1988. In it, he said that “Americans shamefully underestimate their adolescents.” It is a view that came in part from his experience in the Army, serving as an artillery officer with young soldiers who took responsibility to learn their jobs, but also from his experience as a history teacher and headmaster of Phillips Academy.
“All sorts of young Americans are capable of solid, imaginative scholarship,” he wrote, “and they exhibit it for us when we give them both the opportunity and a clear measure of the standard expected. Presented with this opportunity, young folk respond.”
His faith in high school students’ capacity for serious academic work, if they are given some respect, standards, opportunity, and decent recognition, will be sorely missed now.
Founder and President
The Concord Review
A version of this article appeared in the November 11, 2009 edition of Education Week as Recalling Sizer’s Belief in Teenagers’ Abilities