Teacher's notes: How Dangerous was Darwin?

The Teacher’s Notes sections help you to make the most of using Darwin’s letters in the classroom. To accompany every subject specific or cross-curricula pack you will find:

  • An overview of each theme and of the types of activity.
  • A set of ‘Understanding Letters’ questions (with model answers) to test comprehension of letters in each activity.
  • A powerpoint presentation for each pack that is easy to adapt for use in the classroom.

How Dangerous was Darwin?

Activities for: History Key Stage 3 and 4

Darwin finally published On the Origin of Species in 1859 but had been amassing information for many years. Why did he publish then and what was the impact? This pack explores the context of Darwin’s publication through letters exchanged before and after he published.

Materials in this pack:

This resource pack provides edited letters to and from Charles Darwin, contextual images, diary entries and selected texts to enable you to:

- understand the context of Darwin’s publication On the Origin of Species
- evaluate the letters as a source of evidence
- describe the chronological series of events leading up to publication
- explore a range of contemporary reactions to his work

Activities include:

-create a mind map depicting the perception of science and religion in Darwin’s day
- give an account of Darwin’s dilemma in diary format and as if writing a school text book
- write a postcard describing the events of the Oxford meeting
- write a short tabloid newspaper article describing the impact of Darwin’s book

More History activities can be found in the following packs: 

The Beagle Voyage / Darwin’s Scientific Women / Darwin and Slavery / Darwin and Religion

Packs can be used on-line or materials can be downloaded.
The packs contain links to the Darwin Correspondence Project main site and to other relevant sources.