The Texas judicial system is as large and complex as Texas itself. It includes not only the courts themselves but also the ever-evolving body of law that underlies their decisions. Understanding how the system works is an important starting place for becoming an informed and civically engaged citizen.
The Taming Texas Judicial Civics and History Project is designed to foster that understanding in our state’s young people through an innovative program that combines colorful stories from the history of the Texas courts with hands-on classroom activities.
The project is centered around the books in the Taming Texas book series. The first volume in this series, Taming Texas: How Law and Order Came to the Lone Star State, was published in January 2016 and the second book, Law and the Texas Frontier, was released in January 2018. Written specifically for seventh-grade Texas history students, the books will be distributed in hard-copy format to public school classrooms during special presentations by judges and attorneys, and in e-book format through download from this website. Hard copies are also available for purchase.
In 2016 and 2017, the program reached almost 15,000 students in eight school districts in the Houston area. The plan is to extend the program to other areas of the state over the next few years.
The curriculum for the classroom presentations includes two lessons, taught by the same teaching team on two separate class days. The first lesson, called “The Rule of Law and the History of Law in Texas,” introduces students to the concept of the rule of law and tells the story of how laws and the courts developed in Texas.
The curriculum for the classroom unit includes two lessons, taught by the same teaching team on two separate class days. The first lesson, called “The Texas Court System: Roots and Milestones,” introduces students to the rule of law and to the root influences in the evolution of the state’s judicial branch. It also highlights milestones in the history of the court system from pre-colonial Texas to the present.
Lesson two focuses specifically on the structure and functions of the courts. Through a variety of classroom activities, students learn how the Texas court system operates, which courts handle particular kinds of cases, and why it’s important to know these things. The judges and attorneys who visit the classes are able to share their first-hand experiences in the courtroom and to inspire students to learn more about the state’s laws and courts.
The Taming Texas Judicial Civics and Court History Project is generously funded by the Fellows of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society. Click here for a list of the TSCHS Fellows.
Taming Texas Classroom Resources
Taming Texas book series
Book downloads: Taming Texas: How Law and Order Came to the Lone Star State
Digital E-book for iBooks
Digital E-book for Kindle
Hardbound copies of Taming Texas
Hardbound copies of Taming Texas are available for purchase for $20 plus $5 postage, handling, and tax.