Errors we were taught in primary and secondary schools

Teachers are the real shapers of the society. These are people who are responsible for producing doctors, lawyers, engineers, presidents, etc. They mould every other aspect of our daily endeavours. This means that these people cannot afford to be lax about their job. They are expected to always keep abreast of facts and knowledge through constant reading, studying and research. However it seems like most of us that schooled in Nigeria have been taught wrong as most of our teachers gave us wrong information on some topic. These
errors – though some of them were facts at some point in time, but things have since moved on but new discoveries are being made.

Errors we were told at school

Here are some of them:

There are nine planets in the solar system: Astronomers are regularly discovering new planets all over the universe. However, the number of planets in our own solar system has been reduced from nine to eight. This is due to the declassification of Pluto as a planet. Pluto was officially downgraded by astronomers at the 26th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union which was held in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2006. It is now a dwarf planet.

Humans have only five senses: It turns out that sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste are not the only sensory responses human beings exhibit. Human sensory receptors can also respond to pain (nociception), changes in temperature (thermoception), changes in balance (equilibrioception), position (proprioception), magnetic direction (magnetoception) and thepassage of time (chronoception).

There are six classes of food: I was taught – and I know most of you were taught – that there are 6 classes of food, namely, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats and oil, minerals and water. It is no longer the case. Officially, there are now SEVEN classes of food: proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins (or vegetables), fibers, fats and oil, minerals and water. Fiber is derived from plants and
it was initially left out by nutritionists because it seemingly does not add any nutrient to the
body. What fiber does that it alters the way our gastrointestinal tract absorbs food. Fiber itself is indigestible; it is broken down in the large intestine not by the body’s digestive system, but by the trillions of bacteria that live there.

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Christianity is a Western or European
Religion and Europeans brought it to africa: Christianity is one of the world’s largest religion and it originated from Asia in the geographical East. The movement that gave rise to Christianity was begun by Jesus Christ who was born over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem in present­day Palestine. The followers of the teachings of Christ were first called “Christians” in the town of Antioch which is now a historical site in present­day Turkey. Antioch lies on the eastern part of Turkey which is in Asia. It is not clear when Christianity was brought to either Europe or Africa. It is recorded in the Bible that Christ was taken to Egypt as an infant by Mary and Joseph who were fleeing from Herod the Great during the Massacre of the Innocents. However, Christ’s ministry began few years before He was crucified. It is not recorded if He went to Africa or Europe during His ministry. What is clear, though, is that one of His apostles, Mark, established the first church in Africa twelve years after the crucifixion, known as the Church of Alexandria. Some years before that, another apostle, Philip, was recorded in the Acts of the Apostles to have baptized an Ethiopian eunuch on the road leading to Gaza from Jerusalem. The Acts, however, did not tell us where the eunuch went afterwards or if he spread the message in Ethiopia. A church was established in Ethiopia some years after the Church of Alexandria in Egypt and it is still in existence today. Most present­day Ethiopians are Christians and their own form of Christianity is not linked to the ones spread by the Europeans.

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Different parts of the tongue detect different tastes and flavours: Even in my university days, I was taught by professors that different parts of the human tongue are specialized for detecting different tastes. The so ­called tongue map balkanized our taste organ into areas responsible for detecting sweetness, bitterness, saltiness, sourness and unami. Per contra, it turns out that most taste buds on the tongue and in other areas of the mouth can detect any taste irrespective of their position.

Michael Faraday invented electricity: No­ one actually invented electricity. The form of energy now known as electricity has been there since the beginning of the world. Electricity occurs in
nature. A lightning bolt, for example, releases electricity.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb: While it is not clear who invented light bulbs, they were being used as electric lights more than 50 years before Thomas Edison patented his famous invention in 1879. What Edison invented was the world’s first commercially viable incandescent light bulb.

Diabetes is caused by sugar: Sugar doesn’t directly cause diabetes, but if you consume too
much sugar, you are likely going to get diabetes. What sugar does is that it increases the quantity of calories in the body. Too many calories in the body lead to weight gain which
significantly increases a person’s likelihood to develop type 2 diabetes.

Mungo Park discovered the Niger River: This is the most rubbish we were ever taught. Mungo Park was only an explorer who journeyed deep into the middle of the river, people had been fishing in the Niger for centuries before Mungo Park’s ancestors were born.

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Olusola Bodunrin

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