I have alluded on a previous post in relation to PISA testing the danger of one person having ultimate control over something – don’t get me wrong I am not saying no “one person” should be accountable for education policy, but the least we can expect as teachers, is for there to be some joined up thinking and for everyone to be singing from the same hymn sheet. I sometimes wonder if the different government departments are even reading the same book!
Today my attention was drawn to articles about Cameron saying we should teach “kids in pounds and ounces” … wow! just wow! I don’t really have a view about Imperial units (Ok I do! see below if you’re interested in my view!) but what I don’t understand and am aghast at, is the fact that we have the Prime Minister making these statements, yet the following was removed from the new Key Stage 4 programme of study:
“Convert imperial units to imperial units; Know rough metric equivalents of pounds, feet, miles, pints and gallons, and convert between metric and imperial measures”
Yes! Removed! To be honest my view is that they are useful measures given that we still use miles, most people measure their height in feet and inches (unless it’s your passport application!) , their weight in stones and pounds and we buy pints of beer. When we owned the pub, I found out, first hand what 9, 11, 18, 22 and 36 gallons looked like – I can lift a 9 gallon barrel of ale, but not an 11 barrel of Guinness (doesn’t everyone know Guinness and Cider comes in “11’s” or “22’s” whilst lager is in “22’s” and beer/ale comes in “9’s”, “18’s” or “36’s”????).
I am not necessarily saying we should be examining them, but they are useful life skills to have and quite a useful tool to use when exploring multiplicative relationships if you need or want a real (and I mean not “made up”) life context, but the danger is that as we become more focused on exam results things like this will become defunct. Maybe that’s a good thing and the fact that we’ve been teaching the conversions is prolonging their usage. I don’t know.
What can’t happen (and this is my point) is for one person/department to be making statements that conflict with something another department/person is saying or doing. This really is one small example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing!
I really must stop reading the news!