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).
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.