Imperial or metric height mearements in a book aimed at school-age children in the UK?
Thread poster: Jonathan Beaton

Jonathan Beaton  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 13:19
German to English
+ ...
May 30, 2013

It's been in the press (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jan/14/imperial-measurements-maths-lessons) about how both are taught, but which is preferred?

I am revising a book about the human body, and my instinct is that people will understand heights better in the imperial system (feet and inches) as opposed to the metric system (metres and centimetres).

But I suppose the politically correct route is to go with the metric system now as the standard? Maybe it's just older generations who prefer imperial for height measurements, after all.

Opinions?

Edit: Wikipedia reckons that "at school, the use of metric units is the norm, though pupils are taught rough metric equivalents of those imperial units still in daily use."



[Edited at 2013-05-30 10:07 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
Hebrew to English
Height May 30, 2013

Is still very much measured in feet and inches, despite what we're told to use.

I can't remember which I was taught at school, I actually don't remember it being taught, but I think it matters more what the vast majority of people still use, and I'd say that's the imperial system.


 

Laura Mussutto  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
Both if possible May 30, 2013

My son is 9 so I'm quite up-to-date with current trends in this subject!

At school, they mainly use metres and centimetres, as well as kg instead of pounds, which means that children nowadays would actually understand metric measurements better and that the Britons of tomorrow will be less familiar with imperial measurements.

However, you have to take into account that parents may be reading this type of books with/to the children, so it is important that the old system is there as well. Again, my son reads lots of science/technology reference books (obviously aimed at school age), and these tend to have the imperial measure followed by the metric measure in brackets.

Given the type of publication, I personally wouldn't choose between one or the other just yet, but certainly opting for the old system would make the books sound "old" and out of touch with a shift that is actually happening.


 

Jonathan Beaton  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 13:19
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks May 30, 2013

Thanks for your input, both of you. That sounds wise, Laura.

I have received some advice on the matter from a representative of the National Association for Primary Education:

"The official line remains as it has for some time that schools should prepare children for the future by teaching in metric. This is the requirement contained in the draft national curriculum programmes of study which will become law in 2014. I quote from the Year 2 PoS: "Measures. Pupils should be taught to choose and use approriate standard units to estimate and measure length/height in any direction (m/cm)".

In practice, children taking a lead from their parents will happily use either metric and imperial measures as appropriate to particular circumstances. Indeed the national curriculum requires older children to learn how to convert from one measure to the other.

I suggest you use metric since this will fit with the current approach in the classroom."


 

NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:19
Portuguese to English
Education departments have specific documents on everything – use them May 30, 2013

Jonathan Beaton wrote:

National Association for Primary Education:

..."Measures. Pupils should be taught to choose and use approriate standard units to estimate and measure length/height in any direction (m/cm)".


Yes, when in doubt always check the curriculum and/or other related documents – everything is detailed and you will cover yourself. (I’m an ex-primary school teacher.)


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
Hebrew to English
A pity May 30, 2013

Laura Mussutto wrote:
the Britons of tomorrow will be less familiar with imperial measurements.


But I do think this will take time, regardless of the curriculum.


 

Laura Mussutto  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
@Ty May 30, 2013

That's good it will take a while, we are not going to be deprived of funny moments such as in the last episode of The Apprentice, in which candidates were requested to source a flag measuring 6 feet x 4 feet, and one got confused and ordered a flag that was about 20 x 30 cm!!!icon_smile.gif

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:19
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
I agree with Laura May 30, 2013

What you're describing is what I remember from my school days in England...
To give you an idea of how long ago that was, I was in primary school when the currency went metric.

Sure, kids today learn the metric system, but my nephew can't tell me his weight in kilos. He has a fancy set of scales with both systems, but it's configured for imperial.

People buy a kilo of flour and 500g of butter, then go home and make 8oz of pastry with it.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
Hebrew to English
That was brilliant! May 30, 2013

Laura Mussutto wrote:

That's good it will take a while, we are not going to be deprived of funny moments such as in the last episode of The Apprentice, in which candidates were requested to source a flag measuring 6 feet x 4 feet, and one got confused and ordered a flag that was about 20 x 30 cm!!!icon_smile.gif


Scarily that wasn't the worse mistake to be made in that episode! They also had trouble the other week determining how many ml of flavouring to put in the beer and ending up making entire kegs toxic that had to be thrown away.icon_smile.gif .... the calibre of the contestants has really nosedived*!icon_biggrin.gif

*not that they were geniuses to begin with!!

[Edited at 2013-05-30 15:13 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Easy, really... May 30, 2013

- if you don't want anyone anywhere else in Europe to understand how tall you are, use feet and inches. Easy !

 

Back to basics
Brazil
Local time: 08:19
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Number system May 31, 2013

Our number system is decimal by definition. Measuring lengths in a decimal way, therefore, is not only logical but also extremely easy when having to convert measurements (something kids do learn at school, or so I hope). Why make it complicated if you can have it simple? Unless, of course, you pride yourself in simply being different. Being different is good if it doesn't seriously hinder you. Perhaps I am biased, being an engineer and a mathematician, but I really do not see any valid reason whatsoever (unless it would be utter nostalgia, of course) to maintain imperial.
By the way, what does the imperial system do when you have to express extremely large or extremely small numbers. Invent new units or make a mixture of imperial and metric? 1 milli-inch or 1 micro-inch, or a mega-mile? I would really like to find out.


 


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