|Classroom-Courtesy of Microsoft Office|
When I first matriculated in the M.A. in English program at UVA, I was shocked when I came to realize that much of what I learned in high school and college was erroneous. Worse, academic specialists had been aware of the errors for years but, as a group, had not done anything to dispel them. Scholars had corresponded with each other via peer-reviewed journal articles and personal letters/emails; however, they did not attempt to communicate their findings to the general population, especially to young learners. When asked, one professor admitted as much; he said something like, "The information will find its way down eventually." Trickle down theory may work for some things, but not for education.
Granted, the average Joe or Jane can find almost anything on the Internet. A search for "time" on Google, Bing, or Yahoo! will probably yield an essay or article that provides a brief, accurate, and easily understandable synopsis of time (as concept, material force, etc.). The problem lies in the fact that the everyday individual has no way to vet the results; how would he or she know which of the thousands (or millions) of sites has the correct information?
Wikipedia has helped in this area, but it is not the entire answer. The academic profession needs to work with laypeople to get this information to the masses. As important, specialists in the various fields, along with local and federal agencies, need to do a better job of disseminating correct information to grade school and high school teachers. In my opinion, state sponsored continuing education classes (for teacher re-certification), as they are currently constituted, have not been effective at this task. If they were effective, the grade school age me would have learned that the brontosaurus never existed (the supposed brontosaurus fossil was actually an apatosaurus specimen).