I recently received the following enquiry expressing concern about imperial conversions in school.
“My daughter brought home some homework last week which included learning some constants – e.g. 1kg = 1000g. Included in the list was 1kg = 2.2lb and 1 mile = 1.6km. I think it’s out of order for a school to be spending time on metric/imperial conversions. Imperial is dead and the school should help to bury it. Do I have a point, and should I talk to the teacher?”
[article by Phil Hall]
I could not agree more with the above remark. Imperial measures should be phased out of the curriculum along with other changes in wider society (e.g. road signs) so that future generations only have to contend with a single system. As it is there is no recognition of the damage that the measurement muddle is doing to education. It can only result in obstacles to children being able to apply their academic knowledge, based on the metric system, to the world outside lessons where much of the real learning takes place.
However it needs to be made clear that it is not the fault of the school that such practices are going on. Nowadays teachers are directed more than ever about the content and objectives of programmes of study in school. That direction comes from the government and it is they who are now putting imperial conversions back into the curriculum to help pupils cope with the measurement mess in Britian.
It is quite deplorable that our education system should be compromised in this way instead of tackling the underlying problem caused by the policies of successive governments in the first place.