Why did they lie to me in school?


Another “truth” has come to light.

The first one was when I learned that Christopher Columbus was NOT the first person to come up with the idea that the Earth is round. It wasn’t until college that they taught that the ancient Greeks were the first to show the Earth was round. Why did they lie to me in grade school? Did they think I couldn’t handle the truth at that age? WTF?

About a year or two ago it was brought to my attention that Jane Pittman (the famous black woman who lived to be 110 and experienced being a slave AND equal rights reform in the 1960s) was a fictional character. I didn’t believe it. I remember seeing the documantary in grade school. I remember the teacher telling us this is a true story. But yesterday I was in a book store and saw the book “Jane Pittman”. On the back cover it stated (rather vaguely) that the book is a work of fiction. She never existed! I can’t believe this! Why did they lie to me?

You probably have no idea how much they “lied” to you. Truth is, many teachers really just do not know. I have been in fights with my mom over factual information she was to use in the classroom before and she is a third grade teacher. I learned early on to not worry about “facts” they taught me but rather what I could use else where. Hell, in honors chemistry last year my teacher deliberatly taught us a wrong and outdated model of the atom. She taught us how to do the math and stuff for the most correct version of the atom but she taught how the atom acted with the outdated form. Very confusing if you know both of them well and very confusing if you were not to know but were able to look beyond what she shoveled to you. Why? Because the state was going to test on the wrong and outdated atom. It was easier, you see, to teach kids the wrong information than it is to take time and teach them the most correct form.

It happens.

Teachers fib a lot!

I’m still waiting for the day that algebra will come in handy.

Or bloody logarithms (note I can’t even spell them let alone know what on earth they are about).

Grrrrrr stupid odd maths. I have never ever needed it! You were wrong Mrs Maths Teacher!

The day I need it is the day I hope I shuffle off this mortal coil. I can’t even help my 13 yr old with maths any more.

I really shouldn’t have wagged quite so much (played hooky?) during maths.

When my FIL was in high school, he got expelled for arguing two points with the teacher: one was when the teacher said that George Washington was the first President of the US. FIL said, No, there were three others before him, who were President under the Articles of The Confederation. Second was when teacher said Christopher Columbus discovered America, and FIL said, no, there’s all kinds of evidence that lots of other people discovered it before Columbus. The teacher demanded that he apologize and retract his statements. He wouldn’t do it. They expelled him. After a lot of hemming and hawing and meetings and such, they let him back in, but never admitted that he was right about anything he had said. Me, I’ve taught my kids to not to take anything as fact, just because someone in authority says it. Most of the teachers aren’t being malicious by teaching things that are wrong; they don’t know. They’re just teaching what’s in the text books.

He didn’t even “come up” wiht the idea at all. Every educated person at that time, and certainly sailors knew the spherical shape of the earth.

What Columbus asserted (erroneously) was that the earth had a much smaller circumference that had been estimated. So Clombus was wrong, everyone else was right, BUT what the others didn’t count on was there being a huge continent smack in the middle of what they beleived to be a huge empty ocean.

Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogostick!
Man, your FIL (?) sure did deserved an apology. That really bites.

I got into an argument with my sociology professor over the Columbus thing (I took Soc 101 as a senior - had to do it). He would not accept it. I brought in sources. He dismissed them. So sad…

It happened to me in grade school. Had a prehistoric teacher who was quite certain that if a thing was true in 1938, it was certainly true in 1971… including populations of various countries, major exports, and sizes and names of cities. And I got chewed out good and proper once for pointing out that this wasn’t necessarily so.

Hell, take a look around on any message board. Some people simply will not admit when they’re wrong, that’s all.

Does that questions mark after “FIL” imply that you don’t know what that means? If that’s what the question is, it means father-in-law.

My Intro to Sociology professor told us that the phrase “rule of thumb” comes from an old law about wife beating. This, of course, is not true.

One of my American Lit professors implied to us that we shouldn’t use the word “sqaw” because it comes from an Indian word for “vagina.” This isn’t true either.

My psychology professor told us that there are more people alive today than have ever died. This is not at all true.

And, one of my history professors told us in great detail about how the book The Wizard of Oz was an allegory on the Populist movement, and that everyone at the time knew it. This is certainly very false.

After all those things, I no longer completely trust my profs about anything they say, even if it’s in their field…

Get ahold of a copy of Lies My Teachers Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. Rather leftist approach to the subject, but a fascinating look at what is glossed over or outright ignored in textbooks.

Some of us try very hard to get it right, but with contradictory sources spouting who-knows-what, sometimes it’s just not possible. You try to minimize those times, and always admit it when you screw up as a teacher. :smiley:

Not quite…there were many more than three…

The following men served as the President of the Continental Congress:

* Peyton Randolph (September 5, 1774 - October 21, 1774) and
* Henry Middleton (October 22, 1774 - October 26, 1774)
* Peyton Randolph (again) (May 10, 1775 - May 23, 1775)
* John Hancock (May 24, 1775 - October 30, 1777)
* Henry Laurens (November 1, 1777 - December 9, 1778)
* John Jay (December 10, 1778 - September 27, 1779)
* Samuel Huntington (September 28, 1779 - February 28, 1781) 

The following men served as President of the United States in Congress Assembled:

* Samuel Huntington (March 1, 1781 - July 6, 1781)
* Thomas McKean (July 10, 1781 to November 4, 1781)
* John Hanson (November 5, 1781 to November 4, 1782)
* Elias Boudinot (November 4, 1782 to November 3, 1783)
* Thomas Mifflin (November 3, 1783 to June 3, 1784)
* Richard Henry Lee (November 30, 1784 to November 23, 1785)
* John Hancock (November 23, 1785 to June 6, 1786)
* Nathaniel Gorham (June 6, 1786 to November 13, 1786)
* Arthur St. Clair (February 2, 1787 to October 29, 1787)
* Cyrus Griffin (January 22, 1788 to March 4, 1789) 

†On March 1, 1781 the title of the office changed, but Samuel Huntington remained in the chair.

In Chapter VII of The Discarded Image C.S. Lewis deals at length with the fact that the medieval world believed the Earth to be a sphere, and that for various reasons there has grown up since then an erroneous view that they thought it was flat. If desired I can retype excerpts from his discussion.

Reeder, you must apologize for your assertions immediately, and admit they are wrong, or you will be expelled from this thread! :wink: But really, thank you for clearing that up for me. One of three things was going on here: either my FIL was wrong about the three previous presidents thing, or I misremembered what he told me originally, or he was using the best information he had at the time (it was around 1937 that all of this happened).

Pussycow, I recommend you take up a copy of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould’s 1999 book: "Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. ".. In one of the book’s chapters, he uses the example of Columbus.

Gould argues that, indeed, most scientist in Columbus’s time, and since then, knew the earth was round, even if they didn’t know about it’s exact circumference, as Kinthalis and norinews FIL have said.
Gould then pinpoints when, exactly, the myth of “worldly Columbus against the powerful, ignorant, bigoted flat-earth clergymen” came into being. That myth is very powerful and popular (we’ve all seen in depected in countless movies).
That myth didn’t originate that long ago, (maybe 150 years ago), and was created, on purpose, especially for schoolbooks, to illustrate the perceived evil of that time, religious ignorant bigotry. An author of a particular schoolbooks quoted a very insignificant flat-earth proselyte from Columbus’time and then untruthfully, suggested he represented the mainstream of thinking. Compare it to an author in 2400 who woudl quote a few creationist chick tracts from 2000 and depict the creationis views there in as mainstream scientifid thinking in the early 21’st century.

Goulds book reminded me that lots of socalled “truths” and facts are just passed on because they serve another purpose then telling us the truth. Some truths are propaganda. Others offer an comfortable simplification, and are popular for that reason. And some “truths” just float around the common database because they confirm an outlook on life we want to have or need to have.

I personally didn’t find Lies My Teacher Told Me very interesting despite my usual enthusiasm for such publications but I’m the only person I’ve ever known to hold that opinion so I’m forced to believe it’s me and not the book.

Considering the topic, I thought you might be intrerested as well.

I can’t recommend Lies My Teacher Told Me enough.

Teachers aren’t historians. For many teachers, their interest in children (or a decent job or whatever) trumps their interest in history, or their interest in history may be casual, patriotic, etc. Their knowledge of particular areas of history may be sketchy, as the same teacher is usually called upon to teach vastly different parts of world history (American, European, etc.) They may not have kept up with the latest reappraisals of historical knowledge. Also, when you talk about elementary school, usually you have a teacher who has no specialization in any particular field of knowledge like history. Somebody taught them Columbus proved the world was round, and they are simply repeating it.

None of this should be viewed as excusing that lack of knowledge, I’m merely pointing out how the system works.

And George Washington was the first US President. This Articles of Confederation stuff is anal retentive nitpicking.

We’ve had at least one Pit thread on historic myths before.

I often disagreed with my teachers and brought in books and such to back me up.

Here in Philadelphia, most people are totally unaware that evidence shows Betsy Ross sewing the first American flag to be a myth concocted by a grandson.

Tour guides often spread myths about the founding fathers. One local news program did an investigation and found some tour guides giving the tale of how Jefferson wrote the Declaration based on the depiction in the musical 1776.

Notice how the soft and woolly ‘OLOGY’ professors seem to come up with such bunk.

Maybe some of them should try something that demands more rigorous proof, perhaps then they’d understand the meaning of verification.

Very true. My sister had a Biology teacher who insisted that Java Man was “simply” and ape. (And I had a Biology teacher who insisted that the U.S. was supporting the side that was not in violation of the 1954 Geneva Treaty dividing Vietnam.)

However, those “Presidents” didn’t serve the same function as the Presidency established under the Constitution. Rather, they were Presidents because they were “presiding” over Congress.