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Schools Start Removing Analog Clocks Because it’s too Hard to Teach Time

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Technologies run in cycles. As new ideas emerge and gain prominence, old technologies die on the proverbial vine. Typewriters. VHS. Compact discs. Now, it seems that old-fashioned analog clocks are destined to go the way of the fax machine. The reason why has nothing to do with how well they work. Clocks work fine. There’s something deeper at work.

Clocks, it appears, are complicated. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that clocks are more complicated in their analog form than in their digital varieties.

Schools in England are now removing clocks with hands becasue students don’t know how to use them to tell time.

The students began to complain after taking exams in classrooms without digital clocks. Many of the students couldn’t tell time by looking at the old-fashioned clocks, and found their exam-related stress levels escalating.

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders, told the Telegraph that the kids are reliant on digital devices to keep time.

“The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Trobe wants the exam-taking-process to be as stress-free as possible.

“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 the 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.”

“It may be a little sad if youngsters coming through aren’t able to tell the time on clock faces,” he added.

“One hopes that we will be teaching youngsters to read clocks, however we can see the benefit of digital clocks in exam rooms.”

The ability to tell time is a problem, but it is small compared to another issue that’s developing. British school children are finding it difficult to use pens and pencils, as much of their work is completed with keyboards of some sort.

Sally Payne, the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust, talked about the nuanced issue. “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.”