Can one open by moving two pawns at a time, one square forward for each? (I hope you don't think I'm being funny-I was taught this when playing at school and have always played with this option).
Not in a regular chess.
There are some "homemade" rules at least in some parts of the world that allow you to open with two moves (so only at the start of the game), but those are not used on any serious level.
So no, you can't move two pawns in the same move.
No. You can either:
- Move one pawn forwards 2 squares, provided it is the pawn's first move, or
- Move one pawn forward one square, unless it is blocked by another piece
- Make a capture, either normally or en passant
If you want to learn more, there is a great wikipedia article on the rules.