Top 10 Lies Your Teachers Told You in School

Written by degreescout

Via bbc.co.uk

Lie Told

The peppered moths of Britain evolved from light to dark because of the pollution caused by the industrial revolution.

Why It Is a Lie

Teachers love this little story because it makes it so easy for students to understand the concept. The image of the light and dark moths on light and dark surfaces is simple to grasp. Too bad the tale is more black and white than the moths.

Peppered moths came in a variety of shades, from light to dark and have existed as such since before the industrial revolution. By oversimplifying the situation, natural selection is painted as a life-or-death situation.

Why It Shouldn’t Change

Middle school students don’t really need to grasp the complexities of natural selection. Further explanation in later grade levels builds on this basic, but not complete concept.

9. Van Gogh’s ear

Lie Told

Crazy Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear and gave it to a girl as a token of his love. Did we mention that he was crazy?

Why It Is a Lie

While the crazy part is a fact, and the gift giving part may be true, Van Gogh did not cut off his own ear. He actually lost it in a fight with friend and fellow artist, Paul Gauguin.

Why It Should Change

People don’t need to think Van Gogh was crazier than he was.

8. The Scientific Method

Via Sciencebuddies.org

Lie Told

Scientists follow a rigid procedure called the “scientific method” for every experiment conducted.

Why It Is a Lie

There is no one method or procedure. Science isn’t a wash, rinse, repeat kind of thing. While hypothesis-experiment-conclusion is a method used by scientists, it is one of many.

Why It Should Change

By telling such a lie, children are led to believe that there is no creativity or imagination in science.

7. Pocahontas

Lie Told

Pocahontas was an adult Powhattan princess who saved John Smith’s life and later fell in love with him.

Why It Is a Lie

First and foremost, Pocahontas was twelve at the time that John Smith and his crew landed in the New World. That takes care of the adult and, hopefully, the romance pieces of this tale. Furthermore, there were no witnesses to the part about her saving John Smith’s life. Last but not least, John Smith had a well recorded tendency to exaggerate and embellish stories.

Why It Shouldn’t Change

The Disney remake would be far less magical.

6. Salem Witch Trials

Lie Told

Witches were burned at the stake in Salem, MA.

Why It Is a Lie

While many accused witches were burned at the stake in England, British law did not allow the punishment in their colonies. Instead, witches were hanged if they managed to survive death row.

Why It Shouldn’t Change

The method of death is far less important than the reasons for the deaths. While factually inaccurate, the important information about the events doesn’t have to do with the manner of death.

5. The Founding Fathers’ religious beliefs

Via wilsonsalmanac.com

Lie Told

The Founding Fathers were all Christians.

Why It Is a Lie

The Founding Fathers held a wide array of religious beliefs, ranging from Christianity to Deism. Thomas Jefferson rejected the concept of the Trinity and loathed the idea of a national religion.  Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were Deists.

Why It Should Change

It is important that the reality of our founding fathers beliefs be understood, but it is most important that the emphasis of the separation of church and state be taught.

4. Ben Franklin and the Kite

Via ushistory.org

Lie Told

Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity by flying a kite in a lightning storm and, subsequently, getting struck by lightning.

Why It Is a Lie

While Benjamin Franklin did propose the idea of a kite experiment, he never actually went through with it. If he had, he would likely have died.

Why It Shouldn’t Change

Children already know being struck by lightning will kill you. They can keep this story.

3. George Washington and the Cherry Tree

Lie Told

Little George Washington chopped down his father’s cherry tree. When called out on it, he confessed to being a pint-sized pain in the butt.

Why It Is a Lie

George Washington’s biographer inserted the made-up story, and other tall tales of the late President, into his two books. He did this, presumably, for his own amusement.

Why It Shouldn’t Change

Ironically, it teaches kids that they shouldn’t lie.

2. Thanksgiving

Lie Told

The Native Americans and Pilgrims had a potluck dinner/lovefest filled with fat turkeys and corn. Everyone lived happily ever after.

Why It Is a Lie

The entire story is a romanticized version of history. While the Pilgrims and Native Americans did break bread many times, it was never a tradition or annual occurrence.

Why It Should Change

Learning the reality of the relationship between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans would give students a better historical insight into the foundations of America, and the impact of our arrival here on the Native American way of life.

1. Newton and the Apple

Via telegraph.co.uk

Lie Told

Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity when an apple fell on his head.

Why It Is a Lie

This story was never mentioned by Newton. It didn’t come into existence until around sixty years after it allegedly happened. The lie was first told by John Conduitt, who was most likely using the apple as a literary device. The part about the apple viciously attacking Newton’s noggin was added later.

Why It Shouldn’t Change

It gives children hope that one day they could have that “lightbulb moment” just like one of mankind’s geniuses.

Bonus: Coolest Dad Ever

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