I managed to pull it off …

Yesterday I was at the University of Central Florida Center for Emerging Media in downtown Orlando for a screening of the new documentary “Filthy Dreamers.” A brief description from their website:

In the late 1920′s a controversy sparked about the teaching of evolution to women students at Florida State Women’s College. Nearly 100 years later, public figures and activists are still trying to control curriculum in public schools, colleges and universities. The students enrolled in this Honors class through the University of Central Florida aim to educate and inform our viewers about the long history of censorship in the classrooms, the libraries and around the campus.

The film is not yet in its final form. The version the audience of approximately 30 people saw was about the fourth cut, with plenty more editing to come. But even this early version was impressive and educational. It’s obvious that the students who have been working on this project for a year now have really put a lot of time and energy into it. There were a lot of fascinating interviews with experts in this aspect of history and with women who were students at Florida State Women’s College close to the time period these events happened. I was one of the folks to have the honor of being interviewed for the film and even the couple of times my ugly mug popped up on screen didn’t manage to ruin it. I was told that a few more interviews with important, knowledgeable sources were still to come, so I can’t wait to see what the final version will look like a few months from now.

After the film, I gave a short talk addressing an important question that’s directly relevant to battles over evolution in the classroom: what is actually being taught? With all the furor over the subject outside the classroom, one can easily get the impression that evolution in being force fed to students every day of school from Kindergarten through graduation. I addressed the reality of the state of evolution instruction in schools and why that instruction is in the state it’s in. It was my first time giving this talk, so my presentation was admittedly a bit awkward in some spots, especially since I was aware that I was addressing an audience of mostly history academics. That’s pressure! But I believe I managed to pull it off.

My book was on sale after the event and I signed my very first books. Of course, I had signed books that I gave to family and friends, but this was the first time I had signed books for a handful of paying customers. It was a fun experience.

My next event is an hour on the Marc Bernier radio show on Tuesday at 5 p.m. It’s a Daytona Beach radio station, but you can still listen live online and listen to an archived recording later.