Abstract 9- Volume 4, Number 2, Summer 2009

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 4, Number 2, Summer 2009




Lesson Plan: Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial by Ronald Kidd

Michael Lovorn
University of Alabama


State of Tennessee v. John T. Scopes tested the legality of the Butler Act which made it unlawful for public school teachers “to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible.” The media event became known as the “Monkey Trial” and brought a flood of publicity to rural Dayton, Tennessee, turning the creation vs. evolution debate into a national conversation. This dialog and debate caused Americans to consider the powerful influence of traditional religious beliefs and to examine how ideology fares when challenged by modernism and the advancement of scientific theory. Accordingly, the Scopes Trail is included in national curriculum standards for middle grades to foster historical inquiry and encourage students’ contemplation of concepts and factors associated with human thinking, feeling, and behavior. The historical fiction in Monkey Town presents the trial and related hysteria through the observations of a 15-year-old local girl trying to discover what she believes. This lesson encourages learners to critically analyze the relationships between ideas and practices. It enables students’ cursory exploration into issues and conflicts, allowing them to develop discussion and critical thinking skills by considering different perspectives in a historical setting.

Download article as PDF

About the Author(s)…

Michael Lovorn is an Assistant Professor of History/Social Studies Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Alabama.

Contact email: mlovorn@bamaed.ua.edu