My late mother-in-law, who immigrated to the USA from Europe when she
was in her 40s, said that if she could get used to all these strange
non-decimal-based US weights and measures, any Americans could learn the
metric system if they started early.
I don't remember about elementary school but it was in high school in
early 50s. I spent 6 years (two 3 year tours) in Germany and used all
metric for my home projects. Much, much simpler than this stupid
system we are stuck with.
IIANM the first attempt to force the nation to change was in the late
Teaching is one thing but it doesn't really stick.
What is needed is some of those old systems follow the migration path of the
Consider the 16" standard for stud spacing. Change it to metric and in a
while some building wall will be able to estimate the number of metrically
On a personal experience I had a very nice teak wall system using standards
and brackets that came from Denmark. The challenge was mounting standards
that were designed for metric walls on a USA wall and attaching them to
studs. And another thing would be to start packaging goods in kilograms. You
can heft a package and guess that it weighed about 5 pounds. Until you can
judge a couple of kilos that way you will never become adept at the
And one of my favorite set of road signs was on I19 that runs from Tucson
to the Mexican border.
The first sign said "This road is signed in metrics". The very next sign
gave the speed limit in mph.
In my present home state you will find signs that inform you that the next
exit is 1 1/4 miles ahead.
Strange because I have never seen an odometer in 1/4 mile increments. But it
translates to 2 km.
Yes, we never get the feel for it. Plenty of US kids learn the metric
system in school, but they never get to the point where they can
estimate how much something weighs in Kilograms or estimate how many
Liters a quantity of liquid is.
Having to Learn something that one may never use in real live is a waste
of time and money.
Classes teaching metrics should be limited to those who intend to go on
to careers where metrics are actually used.
It's like having to learn Latin.
But everyone will use it. Ever since the 2 liter soda bottle, 99.999%
of the population is exposed to the metric system. Anyone working
around machinery or automobiles is exposed to it.
Yes, I had Latin and would have preferred to learn metrics. I use it
every day now. The machines in our industry have been metric for the
past 30 years since the US manufacturers stopped making them. All the
tooling associated with them is metric and the US suppliers of our raw
material use metric.
Anyone not using and learning it has their head in the sand. It is
not going away, nor should it.
Ask anyone how many units in pints or quarts those 2 liter bottles
contain. Even I'd have to look it up for the exact figure. I believe
it's a little less than a quart (I would have to look it up to see if my
guess is correct, but I won't).
Being exposed to the metric system does not mean that one understands it.
The point is to just stop using US units. A liter = quart and a yard
= meter. 1 mile = 1.5 kilometers
Anyone in school doing math will love you for it. Kids will love you
Forget conversions. Forget US units.
And................if you really have to know a conversion. Google
will nail it for you. Put in any distance an it will convert to any
other distance. One conversion to convert light years to centimeters
same with volume, same with time, same as it ever was.
It is a mind set. People are afraid of change and some ferociously
resist it. . When I found that I'd have to use metrics some years
ago, the thought was a bit intimidating. After a few days, it was
just another set of numbers that was easy to understand. Forget silly
wrench sizes like 23/64.
If you can use dimes and dollars, you can use metric.
You have to "want" to understand it. If you look at that 2 liter soda
bottle, it will show you it is 67.6 ounces and no, I did not have to
look it up. Wine and spirits are 750 ml and 1 liter too.
After using it a while you can think pressure in bars and weight in
kilos and density if grams per liter. Take a trip to Europe and you
will find groceries in kilos and fuel priced in Euro per liter. After
a week, I don't have to even do the math any more, I know what it
My teachers made a valiant attempt to teach me metric in the 60's but
I still have to go from 7.62mm=.30caliber to understand metric sizes.
And I've survived with the limited knowledge. There's things I'd
rather clutter my brain with.
You wouldn't be "cluttering your brai" if you would just give up
converting one to the other. If they did away with this abortion
tomorrow, by Wednesday you would have no problem...correction, by the
first time you bought gas or some groceries youwouldn't even notice.
I buy a "loaf" of bread and I have no clue as to its weight in either
system. I buy a case of beer - again I have no idea if it is packed
in metric or our screwed up system. Same with nuts, bolts, distance,
Re: loaf of bread - the one in my refrig is not "1 pound", I just
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