The Evolution of Public Education Catalyzed by The Scopes Trial

The Evolution of Public Education Catalyzed by The Scopes Trial

The 1925 Scopes Trial has drastically influenced the structure of modern education.

When you think about the concept of public education, does the word religion even cross your mind? It seems that in the modern era, the relationship between schooling and religion has no correlation; however, this wasn’t always the case. The origin of humanity is a subject that has inflicted immense debate, dating back to the 1920’s, and is still discussed in the present.

Specifically, when it comes to public education, the ideology of what should be taught has changed drastically. Darwin’s theory of evolution challenged the teachings of the Bible, which was, and is still considered, as a sinful action. “Inherit in the Wind,” released in 1960, is a fictional movie that is based on the “Scopes Monkey Trial” that took place in 1925. While there are several aspects incorporated into the film, the role of public education is strikingly relevant. The clash of religion and education is explored through this film, which is what makes it relevant, as these ideas are still debated today. The film still resonates with American citizens, as the separation of church and state has changed drastically, and is debated amongst radical Christians.

The film emphasizes the idea that public education and the teachings and stories in the Bible essentially go hand in hand. The teacher put on trial, Cates, is arrested for teaching students that man descended from apes. The small, radical town in Tennessee finds this ideology outrageous, and sinful. Cates fails to abide by the Butler Law, which prohibits teaching evolutionary theory in public schools in Tennessee.

In 2018, teachers rarely, and are often times instructed not to mention religious opinion while teaching, let alone imply to students that mankind originated from God. It’s interesting to consider how much the teachings in public schools have shifted in comparison to 1925 and 2018. Today, it is almost considered incorrect or wrong, for that matter to teach students that humankind was created by God.

America is considered a melting pot, that welcomes those of different religions, including those that do not believe in the same God that is referred to in the Bible. Therefore, in 2018 teaching students that the Bible is the sole reason that humanity exists is almost blasphemy now. So, it is almost incomprehensible to think that a teacher was put on trial for attempting to instill scientific methods into student’s minds.

In fact, in 2008, a teacher who worked for Mount Vernon Middle School in Ohio was fired for his refusal to take his personal Bible off of his desk in his classroom. In 1920, a teacher would have been required to keep a Bible in their classroom and now you will be terminated from your position if you have one in your possession where it is visible to students.

Another interesting factor to consider in public education are the rules that are implemented regarding even speaking about religion. From personal experience, my middle school and high school encouraged students and faculty to refer to Christmas time as the "holiday season." Decorations put up in the hallways and classrooms did not incorporate the term Merry Christmas or anything in relation to Jesus or any biblical characters. Other schools around the country follow these procedures as well, because it may offend someone who is not Christian.

Due to some of these changes within the public education system, some Christians who are faithful followers choose to homeschool their students, for the sake of not exposing their children to scientific ideas, as they wish to mold their child’s mind on the idea of God and creationism. The recent political election has also increased tensions with this as some of President Trump’s supporters are often considered to be radical Christians.

Referring back to the "Inherit the Wind" film, governor Brady states that teachers are required to be servants of the Bible in their teachings. Henry Drummond challenges him, in debating that God created individuals, and provided them with different minds in order to be creative individuals with different thoughts and ideas.

We live in a society that has evolved into encouraging students to develop a free-thinking and independent mindset, which completely challenges and goes against the ideals expressed in the film. The thought of a teacher going to prison for teaching student’s methods other than the Bible is almost incomprehensible in the structure of modern public education. It’s also interesting to note that Darwinism is now a part of most public’s school’s curriculum. Personally, I was introduced to this theory in middle school, and then again during my freshman year biology class.

Freedom of expression with the idea of modernism has drastically altered the way teachers teach and the way students think as well. Yes, students are given material from teacher’s and tested on it, but in comparison to 1925 when the Scopes Trial took place, the aspects of public education are much different. Student’s and, more generally, people in society are encouraged to listen to what they are being taught, but process information they are given in whichever way they please.

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.


1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten

Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

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Coping With The Loss Of A Passion

It's hard to get it back once you lose it.


In college, time to focus on passions seems limited. The homework, essays, group projects, and exams are never-ending.

In high school, I took my free time for granted. I was dancing four hours four nights a week, but I wasn't constantly stressed. I had time to focus on my passion, which is dance.

In college, I am a part of an amazing dance club. But I don't get to compete, take technique classes, or be with the team I was with since I was 8 years old. Now, I receive videos of my team from home's amazing performances, and it aches a bit. I am so proud and happy for their growth but jealous that they have more years than I do. It is nearly impossible to find technique classes at college to take with no car, little free time, and barely any money. I miss my team, I miss my dance teachers and choreographers, and I miss competitions, but most of all, I miss the person I was when I had the opportunity to pursue my passion several hours a week.

My passion will always be there, and I do get to pursue dance on a smaller scale with some amazing dancers in college, but I am coping with the fact that I will never do another competition with my team again, I will never be able to dance with them again, and I will never be able to learn from my dance teachers again. It's a hard loss, one that I think about every day.

To anyone who still has the opportunities to pursue their passions to the fullest extent, you are lucky. Not everyone gets the chance to keep up with their sport, passion, or activity that they dedicated all of their time to in high school. Don't take a single second of it for granted, and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Take time to reflect on why you love it so much, how it makes you feel, and how you can express yourself during it. Whatever this passion or activity is, make every second count.

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