One more parent conference story...
What would YOU do in this situation?
I'm meeting with the father of a nice but slightly-below-average sixth grader. I tell him that her lowest grade was on the quiz on measurement. I explain that it was a very hard quiz, because I required them to be very precise. I make a little joke about driving over the bridges these kids might build some day, and the need for exact measurements. He says he completely understands, because he works in construction or some such thing and they have to measure all the time, and if they are only a little bit off it could cause major problems.
So far so good.
Then he says, well, she probably had trouble because when measuring in centimeters you start at the zero but when measuring in inches you start at the one, and it's easy to think you should start at the zero line, in fact, he's always having to correct the young guys at work when they start measuring from the zero for inches.
And then he starts demonstrating with his hands holding an imaginary ruler and it's clear that he really means what I think he means. And suddenly I want to go back to his daughter's quiz and see if she was one inch off on all her measurements.
I smile weakly and try to get us past this part of the conversation as quickly as possible. Now is not the time for me to suggest to this man who is obviously hardworking and proud of his skill that he has been measuring wrong for his entire career, nor do I think that a five minute parent-teacher conference is likely to cause that kind of paradigm shift even if I tried to correct him. But I am certainly not going to say anything to suggest agreement, either. And I have a new understanding of why building projects end up going way over budget, given the number of boards they must cut that are one inch too short....