Arguing that high school students should be required to write a “serious research paper” before graduation, Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews highlights the example of a Virginia physics teacher who requires all of his honors students to enter a national science essay-writing contest. Despite Mathews enthusiasm, however, the teacher himself is dubious as to whether such a program could be scaled up:
I cannot imagine how any high school teacher with five classes can do a 4,000-word project," he said. "To be done even semi-correctly, the teacher would have to do virtually nothing else for much of the year."
Mathews remains undeterred:
If we raised class sizes for courses that did not require research papers and freed time for teachers with writing skill to meet with students as they wrote their successive drafts, it might work.
Interesting idea, and maybe not too far-fetched: I seem to recall from reading Linda Nathan’s The Hardest Questions Aren’t on the Test that all teachers at her school, the Boston Arts Academy, are required to co-teacher a writing seminar that meets daily.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.