People have been using analog clocks for almost as long as they have been telling time. However, with the abundance of modern technology, the younger generations are finding it difficult to tell the time using the hands of the clock.

In the UK, the home of the world’s most famous clock, Big Ben, many educators are phasing out analog clocks in favor of digital ones. 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.

Stephanie Keenan works at Ruislip High School in northwest London and is the Head of English. Her school has installed digital clocks in the exam hall.

Teachers have started  “removing analog clocks from examination halls because teenagers are unable to tell the time [1].” While many classrooms will still have analog clocks, during scholastic aptitude examinations digital clocks are favored. Students are under strict time constraints during these tests, and teachers believe that using digital clocks in favor of analog clocks help students.

During the tests, students will often interrupt to ask how much time is left. By switching to digital clocks, students will be able to tell time themselves leading to less interruptions during the test. [2]

Malcolm Trobe is the deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders. He said, “The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations… 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.”

In America, teachers are also noticing the change. In 2014, an Arizona teacher suggested that it may be time to retire the analog clock[3]. This is the age of smartwatches and smartphones, and many younger people can’t read the time on the clocks that many of the older generations grew up with.

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.  According to Carol Burris, who is the executive director of the advocacy Network for Public Education and a former educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience, there is still value in teaching analog time.

Carol said, the skills that you need to read an analog clock are skills that kids when they’re young begin to learn…. 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 [4].”

What do you think? Is it important for students to be able to read analog clocks? Or should schools adapt with the times and use digital clocks?

References:

  1. Schools are removing analogue clocks from exam halls as teenagers ‘cannot tell the time’, Camilla Turner, Telegraph, April 24, 2018
  2. U.K. Schools Are Removing Analog Clocks From Exam Rooms Because Kids Can’t Read Them’, Mark Pygas, Distractify, March  24, 2019
  3. Should We Still Teach Analog Clocks?, Sandy Merz, Stories from School AZ, December 15, 2014
  4. Some students don’t know how to read analog clocks. Is it the end of an era?, Brett Molina, USA Today, May 4th, 2018]
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