It's September and parents are rejoicing, because kids are (finally!) heading back to school! Crayons and binders and graphing calculators are flying off store shelves; beanbag chairs for dorm rooms are getting stuffed into the backs of station wagons. But maybe we all need to be taken to school, because a lot of the stuff we think we know about education would get us an 'F' on the final exam. Ken Jennings, that Jeopardy! guy, will be standing in front of the class all month with his red marker at the ready, to correct all that academic misinformation.
The Debunker: Was Stanford University Really Founded After Harvard Snobs Blew Off a Millionaire?
A popular viral e-mail from the late 1990s tells a colorful moral tale about the founding of Stanford University. A timid country couple steps off a train in Boston and tries to get in to see the president of Harvard University. When he finally agrees to see them, just to get them out of his office, they explain that they want to arrange a memorial to their son, a Harvard student who had recently died in an accident. They'd like to build a building on campus. The fed-up president explains that Harvard's campus cost several million dollars, and is probably out of their price range. The couple, after hearing that number, returns to California and starts up their own university in Palo Alto—because they were Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford! And that's…the rest of the story.