Going Ape: Florida's Battles over Evolution in the Classroom

Going Ape: Florida's Battles over Evolution in the Classroom

by Brandon Haught
     
 

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Before William Jennings Bryan successfully prosecuted John Scopes in the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial,” he was a prominent antievolution agitator in Florida.

In Going Ape, Brandon Haught tells the riveting story of how the war over teaching evolution began and unfolded in Florida, one of the nation’s bellwether states. It still simmers just

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Overview

Before William Jennings Bryan successfully prosecuted John Scopes in the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial,” he was a prominent antievolution agitator in Florida.

In Going Ape, Brandon Haught tells the riveting story of how the war over teaching evolution began and unfolded in Florida, one of the nation’s bellwether states. It still simmers just below the surface, waiting for the right moment to engulf the state.

The saga opens with the first shouts of religious persecution and child endangerment in 1923 Tallahassee and continues today with forced delays and extra public hearings in state-level textbook adoptions. These ceaseless battles feature some of the most colorful culture warriors imaginable: a real estate tycoon throwing his fortune into campaigns in Miami; lawmakers attempting to insert the mandatory teaching of creationism into bills; and pastors and school board members squabbling in front of the national media that descends into their small town. The majority of participants, however, have been, and still are, average people, and Haught expertly portrays these passionate citizens and the sense of moral duty that drives each of them.

Given a social climate where the teaching of evolution continues to sharply divide neighbors and communities, Going Ape is a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of public education.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

 “A meticulous account of the 90-year debate over the teaching of evolution in Florida’s public schools… full of high drama and raw emotion.”—Weekly Standard

“[A] dramatic and compelling story.”—Voice of Reason

Library Journal
03/15/2014
That Darwinism has been debated since the 1920s suggests that the issue goes beyond the realm of science. As Haught (public information officer, Volusia Cty. Sheriff's Office) points out, the acceptance of evolution—and particularly the teaching of evolution—is more of an emotional than an intellectual struggle. In what is essentially a "micro history," Haught shows how the tenor of the debate has shifted over time: from William Jennings Bryan's struggle against "monkey teaching" in the 1920s (Bryan moved to Florida at the conclusion of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial), up to the present. Each chapter surveys a different time period and examines the types of legislation that were proposed, how each bill sought to moderate evolution's influence in the classroom, and how the legislation fared. For this reviewer, it would have been helpful to hear more about how Haught, a nonacademic, researched the book, as he inadequately explains the differences among the various parts of Florida where these debates play out. Also, the author's claim that Florida deserves special scrutiny because it is "a reflection of the whole country" fails to convince. VERDICT This book will likely appeal to a narrow range of readers only.—Seth Kershner, Northwestern Connecticut Community Coll. Lib., Winsted

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813047577
Publisher:
University Press of Florida
Publication date:
04/22/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,240,746
File size:
3 MB

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