The clocks aren’t broken, the kids just can’t read them, and that’s just not right, not even twice a day.
Apparently, younger generations in Britain have been spending so much time on their digital devices that they can no longer tell time on analog clocks, reports Inspire To Change. So, rather than educate kids to properly read an analog clock, schools have elected to remove the clocks entirely from exam halls.
“In the UK, many educators are phasing out analog clocks in favor of digital ones,” reports the outlet. “Students taking the GCSE and A-level exams were complaining that they couldn’t read the time. In order to make everything ‘as easy and straightforward as possible,’ they are making the switch to digital time reading.”
Not only that, the clock removals are happening in northwest London at schools like Ruislip High School, a city known for its gargantuan clock. Stephanie Keenan, Head of English at the high school, said teachers are “removing analog clocks from examination halls because teenagers are unable to tell the time.”
Since students are under strict time limits during aptitude examinations, analog clocks will be swapped in favor of digital ones. Often the students will interrupt the test to ask the proctor how much time is left. The digital clocks will not only allow the students to keep track, they will lead to less interruptions.
Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders, simply said that the new generation cannot read a traditional clock due to the presence of digital technology. “The current generation isn’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” he told The Telegraph in 2018. “They are used to seeing a digital representation of time on their phone, on their computer. Nearly everything they’ve got is digital so youngsters are just exposed to time being given digitally everywhere.”
Trobe added that teachers want the kids to feel as relaxed as possible during their exams without interruption.
“You don’t want them to put their hand up to ask how much time is left,” he said. “Schools will inevitably be doing their best to make young children feel as relaxed as they can be. There is actually a big advantage in using digital clocks in exam rooms because it is much less easy to mistake a time on a digital clock when you are working against time.”
To put it more bluntly, that means students taking tests to measure their intelligence cannot so much as perform the basic task of reading a piece of technology that has existed for several centuries … And. The. Schools. Are. Enabling. This.
Sally Payne, a pediatric doctor, told The Telegraph that excessive use of digital technology is making it difficult for students to so much as hold a pencil.
“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills,” she said. “It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”
This tyke-tock illiteracy extends beyond the shores of Britain and into the United States where teachers have also suggested that analog clocks be swapped for digital ones. School curriculums, however, have not dropped the ball.
“In 2014, an Arizona teacher suggested that it may be time to retire the analog clock,” said the Inspire To Change report. “However, currently United States schools are still keeping analog clocks. Learning to read the hands of a clock is part of the core curriculum in many schools.”
Carol Burris, executive director of the advocacy Network for Public Education, told USA Today that children benefit tremendously by learning analog time due to the mathematics involved. “The skills that you need to read an analog clock are skills that kids when they’re young begin to learn,” she told the outlet. “There’s a lot of very complex mathematical manipulations that are involved in being able to tell time with an analog clock. It takes some of the math skills students are learning and gives them an important real world context.”