Teachers giving misinformation

This thread isn’t about common myths and misinformation such as you would find in Lies My Teacher Told Me that lots of teachers erroneously teach. I’m thinking more about just one or two teachers being wrong.

When I was in high school (late 80’s to early 90’s) the topic of reparations for slavery briefly came up and someone mentioned that the Japanese got compensated for the internment that happened during WWII. The teacher said that when slavery happened, it was legal, but the internment wasn’t, that’s why the Japanese got compensation. I believed that right until last month when a thread on this board mentioned Korematsu v. United States. I never heard about it before and was shocked at the decision. It also totally invalidated what the teacher said.

Also, in grade or middle school I heard from two or three sources that the British weren’t allowed to criticize their own government. A few years ago I posted a question about it here and was told that it was total B.S.

So, do any of you have any isolated incidents of school misinformation?

I had a teacher in sixth grade tell us that Central America was a country. One country. I was furious and brought in encyclopedias with, you know, articles on Panama and all. He said those were states. I’m still absolutely seeing red just thinking about it.

Like the health teacher who taught the class that schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder were the same thing?

Just this term, I had a very frustrating Gerontology class with not one but two total crap teachers. Read-From-The-Powerpoint types who clearly didn’t know the material well at all. They were wrong All The Time. What was really super frustrating about it was that they used test bank questions (questions written by other authors), as well as their own, so you never knew which answer to give, even if you knew what was right and what they said.

For example, we were told in lecture that a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test is “diagnostic” for cancer. Whaaaa? we asked, aware that a PSA can be elevated in cancer, but it can also be elevated in other conditions, so you can’t use it to diagnose cancer. Yep, she said, it’s what they use to diagnose cancer. Oooooooookay…

Come test time, there were two questions on the test. Both of them asked essentially the same thing, only one came from a test bank and one she wrote. The answer to the test bank item was that a PSA is a screening tool that is NOT diagnostic for cancer, and the answer to her question was that a PSA is the “gold standard” diagnostic test for cancer.


I barely scraped a C out of that rotation. I got a 97% on the standardized HESI test for that rotation. Something tells me it’s not exactly my fault I only got a C, with classroom test questions like that to contend with.

This is worse than teaching that Dissociative Identity Disorder is universally accepted as a real diagnosis.

I remember a college-level introduction to linguistics course where the teacher said that ‘OK’ is derived from an African word. That false etymology’s bad enough, especially in a linguistics course: It’s actually the last remnant of an early 19th century fad for abbreviations and humorous misspellings; in specific, ‘OK’ derives from ‘Oll Korrect’ for ‘All Correct’. However, the real corker is that she said anyone who disputes this etymology is racist and doing it for racial reasons. That little cognitive landmine meant my skin was too white to ever correct the class on it.

Teachers are human, so they’re going to make mistakes. And as a teacher myself, I know that when you’re put on the spot you really have to think on your feet. You’re standing up there in front of a large group of people, all those eyes on you . . . sometimes teachers make the wrong choice when they’re in that situation. Instead of saying, “I’m not sure,” or “I’ll look that up and get back to you,” they make something up, or guess, or say something they think might be true but isn’t. The tough thing is admitting you’re wrong and still maintaining your credibility as a teacher. It ain’t easy, folks. But finding out you’re wrong and still insisting you’re right . . . that’s not good. Acknowledging that you made a mistake in front of the whole class isn’t easy, but it’s a sign of grace and maturity.

From memory:

I think I heard that “Ring around the Rosie” was about the plague. Although as much as I read the dope, that might’ve been someone else’s experience.

I know I heard that “rule of thumb” refers to the size of stick you could legally beat your wife with. No, it doesn’t.

Both of those are fairly common myths that a lot of people have been taught.

My high school science teacher apparently didn’t know that the mercury he was handling would eat his gold wedding ring. Oops. :slight_smile:


Speaking about a teacher not knowing anything. From middle-school to high-school I couldn’t find a single health or PE teacher who knew what happened when you popped your knuckles. I think I finally learned when I asked a doctor or a nurse.

We had an idiot (white) teacher in secondary school sit there and tell us that the term “black hole” was racist. I’m fairly sure he also claimed that the term “blackboard” was also racist.

Fortunately this nonsense wasn’t strictly “misinformation”, since nobody in the class believed a word of it. (It’s worth adding that around 90% of the students in said class weren’t white.)

In middle school, a math teacher could not evenly divide $500.00 by some number. Her solution? You add an extra zero, make it $5000.00, and then it becomes evenly divisible.

In college, an ethics professor told us that no one could become the president of the US unless they were a third generation citizen of America. This same professor informed us that the Jews ran the media while making a point about how the media ignored certain ethnicities.

A teacher insisted that MRS wasn’t an abrreviation for anything. She said, MR is an abbreviation for Mister but the world was sexist and they just added and “S” to MR to make MRS.

I also had a teacher that insisted that North America “ended” at the USA-Mexican Border. (Perhaps she was confusing Latin America?)

Not quite the same thing but in the 70s I took German and he insisted that the Communists were so successful in brainwashing their peoples that they could take down the Berlin Wall and other fortifications and people wouldn’t go to the West.

When my family moved from Upstate NY to South Carolina, I was just entering third grade. The third grade-teacher I had could not pronounce the words “quite” and “quiet.” Coming out of her mouth, they were both pronounced “quite”

She also told me that the word “jump” and a silent “m” in it.

(Hi, I’m new. Please don’t tear me to pieces)

Hi, chillywilly!

Since your first post was spelled correctly, on topic and posted in the appropriate forum, we won’t tear you to pieces…yet. :wink:

Seriously, welcome to the Dope. Hope to see you 'round. :slight_smile:


My brother’s seventh-grade history teacher told the class that Bosnia was in Asia. Also, that the Bronx was properly spelled “Broncks,” and spelling it with an x was just a slang term.

There is some truth in that:


In my 9th grade health class, some guy asked the teacher if it would affect a baby if the father was on LSD at the time of conception. The teacher affirmed that yes, absolutely it would, because LSD changes the structure of one’s DNA.

(I am not making this up)
My 7th grade science teacher asserted that what we thought was the moon during the daytime was actually a reflection, the ‘real’ moon could only be seen at night.

He also thought that it was possible, in the course of a single night, for people in different parts of the world, to see all the phases of the moon.