INTERDISCIPLINARY EDUCATION ~ Monkey Business: Teaching the Scopes Evolution Trial
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
Katherine A. O’Conner
East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
The Scopes Monkey Trial is a landmark court case in American history and has often been referred to as “The Trial of the Century.” It provides a curricular platform for understanding changes in American society, populace tensions with shifting social and moral views, gaps in economic prosperity, and the outcomes of urbanization. Studying this pivotal and historical trial – along with the context surrounding it – offers readers a dynamic lens to view powerful social and cultural insights at the beginning of the twentieth century. Additionally, academic freedom issues, which have a history in our nation’s courts, (Patterson & Chandler, 2008) as well as current dialogue among educators (see the November/December issue of Social Education), and are at the very center of the Scopes Trial, require critical examination. Most importantly, it exemplifies the type of interdisciplinary content social studies educators should be promoting, a goal of 21st Century Teaching and Learning and Common Core Standards. In this article, we provide a brief historical context setting the stage for the Scopes Monkey Trial, a daily synopsis of significant points in the trial, a rationale for teaching the Scopes Trial, and instructional teaching resources with particular emphasis on books, DVD/media, and web-based materials.