One of the more quirky things about working in other countries is understanding how they tell the time.
While I always understood that Americans used a particular date format that made the dates easier to sort on spreadsheets despite the parts of the whole not going up from smallest to biggest, but I didn’t think that saying “half past” to describe being half way through the hour was so quintessentially British even with my accent.
Then when I started working in Holland, I found that “half past” was actually rather “half to”. If I organised to meet someone at “half four”, they would turn up an hour early at 15.30. That was made especially difficult working with the Dutch while we were in two different timezones.
Alas, the difference in interpretation is one thing. Being unable to read a clock is another.
In 2017, a survey conducted by the Discount Watch Store concluded that 80% of kids in America can’t tell the time from an analogue clock. When quizzed on their ability to tell time by looking at the clock’s hands, only 20 percent of students ages 6 to 12 can nail it. This seems to hold true nation-wide.
A similar issue is blighting the UK. “The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” Mr Trobe, a former headmaster, told The Telegraph. “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.”
To fix the issue, schools are replacing analogue clocks in exam halls with digital ones to remove an added “stress”.
This isn’t the only analogue skill that kids are failing at.
“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,” head pediatric occupational therapist Sally Payne 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 gold a pencil.”
I really think that technology has lots of benefits, but if we’re getting to the stage where kids can’t write or tell the time on a clock, it is possibly going too far?