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Top 10 Things School Taught You Wrong

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Michael Wynands

You might’ve learnt it from a teacher or textbook, but that doesn’t necessarily make it true. From the value of writing in cursive, to basically everything about Thanksgiving, to marijuana being a gateway drug, these aren’t exactly the whole story. WatchMojo counts down ten things you were misinformed about in school.

Special thanks to our user EmJay for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/The+Top+Ten+Things+YOU+Were+MISINFORMED+About+In+SCHOOL.

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Transcript
Script written by Michael Wynands

Top 10 Things You Were Misinformed About In School

You might’ve learnt it from a teacher or textbook, but that doesn’t necessarily make it true. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Things You Were Misinformed About In School.
For this list, we’re at looking at common lessons, ideas and concepts most of us learned in school, which have later been revealed to be less than accurate - if not downright false.

#10: The Sky is Blue Because of the Ocean (or Vice Versa)

Ahhhh yes, the age old question - why is the sky blue? According to outdated pop science, your often incorrect know-it-all uncle, and a very rudimentary science course you took in school, it’s because of the ocean, and the way it reflects in the sky. That might be a nice simple answer, but sadly... it’s incorrect. Nor is the opposite true. You see, both get their lovely respective blue hues from something called the “Raleigh Scattering Effect.” Essentially, the molecular makeup of both makes it so that short wavelengths of blue light scatter better than the long wavelengths, such as red, yellow and orange. The end result… the sky and ocean look blue!

<4>#9: Cursive Matters Just when you finally became proficient with block letters, they went and threw this curveball at you. Yes… cursive writing, when done well, is beautiful. But why did we spend so much time on it, and why did we need to learn not one but two ways to write by hand? Literacy, and the low-tech ability to express one’s self in writing, are both essential skills. But cursive? It’s not like the average person writes physical letters or pens novels by hand anymore. Most of us use it so infrequently, it’s hard not to feel that all those hours of practice went to waste.

#8: Columbus Discovered the Earth Was Round

Typically, the history you’re taught is going to be from the perspective of your own country, and that’s understandable. However, such nation-centric lessons can lead to some unfortunate biases and… less than accurate lessons. Not only had the round earth theory been around for millennia across various cultures, but it was widely accepted by many in Columbus’s own time. The fact is, Columbus never set out to prove the earth was round, and any such notion received no mention until the 19th Century, when Washington Irving wrote Columbus’ biography. By the early 20th Century however, this myth was presented as fact.

#7: Almost Everything About Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, the Thanksgiving narrative we learn in school is essentially a work of fiction. The historic first Thanksgiving took place only after countless indigenous people had been killed by European disease. Slavery was also still in practice and Squanto, the Native American credited with teaching the settlers to farm the land, had previously been enslaved, only returning home after escaping from his captors. Based on the limited account of the first Thanksgiving, the Native people showed up by chance, and had to go and get more food to join. Meanwhile, in 1637 the first official “Day of Thanksgiving” was to celebrate the successful massacre of some 700 Pequot.

#6: The Tongue is Made Up of Taste Sections

Remember those simplified, color-coded anatomy charts? Among them was most likely this nifty little diagram, which illustrated how certain areas of your tongue were dedicated to each taste. Sadly, the tongue map is utter nonsense. Originating from a German paper, written by David P Hänig and published in 1901, the theory, which was then grossly oversimplified into the now famous chart, was first presented to the world by Edwin G. Boring in the 1940s. The truth? The tongue is covered in thousands of taste receptors, allowing all five tastes – not four – to register anywhere on the tongue.

#5: Marijuana is a Gateway Drug

In America’s decades long war on drugs, the strategy has often been to treat them with the utmost severity both in the legal system and the classroom. From the propaganda films of the 1930s onwards, to Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign beginning in the late 80s, the stance on drug education has seemingly always been ‘demonize first… explain never”. The issue of marijuana is still debated today, but at least as far as schools taught it… it is incorrect. Yes, most serious drug users smoked marijuana first, but the majority of marijuana users never move on to harder substances. It’s a classic case of confusing correlation with causality.

#4. The “I before E except after C” Rule

Compared to many other languages, English is particularly challenging one to learn. Why? A lack of clear rules. Due to the long and complicated historical evolution of the language, English is overflowing with half-rules, generalizations and more than its fair share of exceptions and seemingly odd spelling choices. The “I before E except after C” is a simple mnemonic rule to help students spells words containing either an “ie” or “ei”. The problem is… what good is a rule if it has so many exceptions? Species, policies, fancier, financier… we could go on all day. According to a certain British trivia show… there are 923 exceptions.

#3: You Can’t Start a Sentence with the Word “Because”

Because of… what exactly? Kids looking to discredit their parents’ response of “because I said so” might wish this particular grammar lesson held water, but unfortunately, no such luck. The idea is that starting a phrase with “because” can easily result in fragments, and when teaching students to write, what makes for a “complete sentence” can sometimes be hard to convey. It might not make for the prettiest start to a sentence, but so long as that dependent clause is supported by an independent one, you’re in the right, grammatically speaking. Because of this common school lesson however, most people avoid it.

#2: You Can’t Rely on Wikipedia for Information

When Wikipedia first hit the mainstream, it seemingly became the bane of most teachers’ existence. To be fair, the concept is an admittedly troubling one from a traditional academic perspective. People with no credentials can post information on a subject, and the only people editing or verifying their information, are other users. But over the years it has grown and evolved to the point where many people now consider any Wikipedia page with appropriate citations to be at least an introductory authority on any given subject. It still shouldn’t be used as a source in research, but it is undeniably a great place to find information or links to other legitimate sources.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions

Napoleon Bonaparte was Small

The Food Pyramid

Cleopatra was Egyptian

#1: They Will Prepare You For College

As anyone who has gone to University or College will tell you… the transition from high school to higher learning can be quite jarring, and for many undergrads the pressure proves too much. According to College Atlas, based on 2014 statistics, roughly 30% of University students drop out after one year. High School, up until graduation, provides a relatively regimented system of structure, and University, by contrast, places all academic responsibility squarely at the feet of students. Furthermore, the nature of the work drastically changes. Your hard work, advanced prep courses and high scores often make little difference - college is simply a different beast.
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