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Oklahoma Education



Penmanship is the art of skill of writing by hand. Teachers today spend far less time on penmanship than in classrooms a hundred years ago.

Why do you think that is?

One of the types of writing students practiced was cursive, which you may already be familiar with. If you are not, try spelling different words by making letters shown in the picture.

If you like improving your ability to write by hand, you can take a look through this book on penmanship that is almost a hundred pages long! archive.org/stream/palmermethodofbu00palmrich#page/28/

Memorization and Recitation

Educators in Oklahoma Territory shared the belief that memorizing large amounts of information showed progress in learning. Most people during this time also valued people who could speak well. Speeches and lectures were very popular throughout the country as a form of entertainment in addition to learning. Today, the ability to memorize and speak publically remains important, but not as important as they used to be. It can still be fun to challenge yourself, though! One activity that many students participate in every year is memorizing the Gettysburg Address. They work on memorizing the short speech. Then, they practice giving the speech. They want to make sure they can be heard, they have the correct pronunciation, and they speak persuasively. You can try, too!

President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address November 19, 1863

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

You can also take a look at Getty Ready’s website to learn more about the address and the national effort to learn and present the address at https://gettyready.org.

Working with Primary Sources: Teacher Walkout

In 2018, teachers throughout the state engaged in a protest over poor school funding and a lack of resources for students. You might remember it, but you may not remember all the details or why it was important. You can learn these things by looking at a kind of primary source: newspaper articles. A primary source is a record created during or immediately after the historical event. Often, they are about very specific parts of an event, and you have to review several primary sources to build a story.

Use the news search to find articles from 2018 about the teacher walkout. After you have read several articles, answer these questions:

  • What was the teacher walkout?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • What individuals or groups were involved in the teacher walkout?
  • How did the teachers protest?
  • Why were they protesting?
  • What was the response from other groups?
  • Were they successful in achieving their goals?

Teachers in Oklahoma City, 2018 (image courtesy ABC News and the Associated Press).

Working with Secondary Sources: School Desegregation

After the Civil War, throughout the American South, children attended segregated schools. Legally required school segregation began during Oklahoma’s territorial period. African Americans made it clear that they did not believe segregated education was fair or just. Efforts to eliminate segregated schools were directed both at the federal and state levels. Oklahoma’s African American community was an important part of both campaigns. You can learn the story of desegregation in Oklahoma by working with secondary sources.

A secondary source is a source that was not created firsthand by someone who participated in the historical event. They are usually written by someone who has studied the event extensively by working with many other sources to try to understand the event as much as possible. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture is a secondary source that will help learn the story quickly and thoroughly.

Take a look at these articles in The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture to learn about Oklahoma’s desegregation campaign:

James M. Smallwood, “Segregation,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Jimmie Lewis Franklin, “African Americans,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Robert H. Henry, “Civil Rights Movement,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

John H. L. Thompson, “Dunjee, Roscoe,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Melvin C. Hall, “Fisher, Ada Lois Sipuel,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Alfred L. Brophy, “McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950),” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

James M. Smallwood, “NAACP,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Melvin R. Todd, “Oklahoma Association of Negro Teachers,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Dianna Everett, “Better Schools Amendment,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

L. David Norris, “Gary, Raymond Dancel,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Jerry E. Stephens, “Busing,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Jerry E. Stephens, “Bohanon, Luther Lee,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,