What time does the clock in the above image say? Can you read it? Of course you can.
I was watching “Jimmy Kimmel Live” the other day. Well, I wasn’t actually watching it live. I was watching it from my DVR recording. But either way, I was struck by a segment where one of his staff went out on the street and asked a number of kids, some as old as teenagers, to look at an image of an analog clock and say what time was on the clock. Remarkably, only one of the those asked could do it.
Along those lines, I read about a recent study that showed that only one in ten Oklahoma City kids ages 6 to 12 owned an analog watch. And only one in five knew how to read one.
I also just read that British schools are replacing analog clocks with digital clocks because of students’ inability to read the analog ones. The deputy general secretary at Britain’s Association of School and College Leaders said, “The current generation isn’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations are.”
What is going on? I remember a few years back when a number of school systems were dropping the teaching of cursive from their curricula. The rationale was that people today don’t bother to write and mail handwritten letters. Instead, they sit behind their computers, at their laptops, or on their smartphones and type emails, send text messages, or post all kinds of, um, fascinating tidbits on Facebook or Twitter.
And yes, I admitted in my post earlier today, that my cursive is so illegible that I don’t handwrite letters anymore either. But does that mean we should abandon teaching cursive handwriting to our kids?
And now they’re talking about removing analog clocks from schools and ceasing to teach kids how to read them? Hey, I have an Apple Watch, but the watch face I use is an analog face. Because when I’m looking at my watch, it’s more often to tell what time it’s not than what time it is.
If teaching cursive and how to read analog clocks in school are wastes of time because people no longer write in longhand and because they use digital clocks, perhaps schools should stop teaching math, as well. Doesn’t just about everyone use calculators to add, subtract, divide, and multiply? Even smartphones have built-in calculators. And since everyone is so adept at using keyboards and computers, can’t we just teach students how to use Excel to perform a wide variety of sophisticated mathematical functions? Who needs to learn math?
In fact, perhaps schools and teachers are obsolete. All anyone needs to know is how to Google. From there they can get answers to virtually any question, information about any topic, and even self-help, do-it-yourself instructions for just about any project.
And if they can’t find what they’re looking for on Google, they can always text someone.