Sunday, January 10, 2016

More historic blackboards discovered in Oklahoma

More frozen-in-time blackboards from 1917 have been found at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City. While the students were home for winter break, workers pulling old blackboards and corkboards from the wall of a classroom on the third floor discovered slate blackboards with the lessons still fresh as the day Miss Walker first chalked them for classes 7A and 7B on December 10th, 1917.

Of particular historical significance is a map of Indian Territory, modern-day eastern Oklahoma, marking the tribal boundaries and capitals. This is historically significant because the state of Oklahoma was formed by combining the Oklahoma Territory in the west with the Indian Territory in the east. While this had been Congress’ plan since the 1890 passage of the Oklahoma Organic Act, the people of the Indian Territory resisted being forced into a state with their land-grabbing neighbors to the west. As late as 1905 Indian Territory attempted to join the Union as its own state, the State of Sequoyah, but were refused. Instead President Roosevelt encouraged passage of the Oklahoma Enabling Act in 1906 which allowed delegates from both territories to come together for a state constitutional convention with a view to creating a single state. The combined Oklahoma and Indian Territories officially became the State of Oklahoma in November of 1907. That’s just 10 years before the teacher drew that map on the chalkboard. It was practically current events.  Of interest to me is that my mom's dad was born in "Indian Territory" in 1898, so now I know a bit more about the political status at that time, thanks to a lesson from 1917.  The blackboard never stops teaching!

Imagine someone drawing such a beautiful picture on a modern blackboard today! 
The first group of historic chalkboards was discovered last June in four classrooms on the second floor that were having their old blackboards replaced with whiteboards and smart boards. Underneath the blackboards were thin slate boards covered in math, music and handwriting lessons, hygiene tips, student names and brilliantly colored chalk drawings dated November 30th and December 4th, 1917. 
It seems when the old slate boards were covered with new ones over a couple of weeks in late November, early December of 1917, several teachers decided to leave their work up, dating it and signing it for posterity.
Note two things below.  First, the writing is in cursive, which is mostly not taught in public schools anymore, so a modern student might not be able to read it.  Second, the math problem at the left will soon be mysterious to the modern student once Common Core takes hold.  The stupidification of our nation continues.

The sign below is making the rounds of the internet, and although I'm not certain it's genuine, one can easily imagine it being so, given the state of our nation today.  It's too bad we can't go back to the era when education expected something from the students, and the students wanted to learn.

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