“Facts” you Learned in School that are Actually not True


Abbey McGee

Art by Abbey McGee

By Abbey McGee, Staff Writer

Growing up in the school system, you’re taught many things throughout the years, which depends a lot on the teachers you may have. However, some of what you’ve learned may be overly simplified, or just outright incorrect. Here are a few common things taught in schools that have since been proven wrong.

  • Pluto was a planet – briefly.

This statement is one of the most well known and hotly debated of our time. Our generation gets very defensive over Pluto’s status as a planet; it was one before, why can’t it be now? Most of us know by now that Pluto is currently classified as a “dwarf planet,” which is a smaller classification of a celestial body. It was demoted in August of 2006, as more “planets” like Pluto were discovered, and the definition of what makes a body a planet was redefined. Pluto didn’t make the cut as it isn’t capable of dominating it’s orbit.

  • Chameleons don’t actually change color as camouflage.

Alright, we’ve known this since kindergarten. Now it’s suddenly not true? Actually, not so suddenly. Chameleons have always changed colors – but not to camouflage, or “blend in.” Most of how they change colors has to do with either the temperature or their mood. Darker colors absorb more light, and more light means more heat, so chameleons will adjust their colors as to absorb more or less heat. Also, they will generally use darker colors to signal being fearful, or brighter colors to signal excitement.

  • “Independence Day” isn’t actually celebrating independence.

Most Americans will celebrate July 4th every year, but if you had payed attention in fifth grade history, you’d know why its’ title is debatable: while the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776, there was a whole war that came after it. The founding fathers didn’t just sign a paper and send it to Great Britain, who then said “Oh alright cool.” There was a lot more bloodshed, a lot more fighting, and a lot more death involved. The United States didn’t officially receive independence until September 3rd, 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed. Small kickback?

  • There’s a lot more man-made constructs to see from space than just the Great Wall of China.

We kind of just accepted things as fact when we were little huh? This seems obvious when it’s outright stated, but we were taught otherwise. There are many conditions that determine whether you can see something from space, and the Great Wall is no different. On a less cloudy day, where the sun is facing towards the area, it’s more possible to see, but in those conditions, it’s also easy to see large cities, highways, man-made bridges, and lonely roads along a desert. And from the moon? No, absolutely not, it’s almost impossible to even see the continents from the moon.

  • All of Thanksgiving.

Kid you not. Remember in elementary school when some of us would dress as the “civilized” pilgrims, and others would dress as the “savage” Natives, and we would sit together and eat hastily cafeteria made “turkey” and “mashed potatoes,” and the point of it all was that we all got along? None of it happened, at least the way we were taught. There was no three day feast, there was no celebration about unity. There was an agreement, a treaty, that basically said they’d watch out for one another. Kind of messed up when you remember that actual Native Americans, who were in America first, weren’t granted citizenship until June 2nd, 1924, and the only thing “pilgrims” gave to the Natives were diseases that wiped out most of their population.