Teens cannot tell time

Analogue clocks removed from exam halls as teens ‘cannot tell time’

Schools across the UK have started to remove analogue clocks from examination halls as teens cannot tell the time, says a head teachers’ union.

As the Telegraph reports, teachers are using digital devices because students sitting their GCSE and A-level exams struggle to read the time on analogue clocks.

Deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Malcolm Trobe, said young people have become accustomed to using digital devices.

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

Mr Trobe, who previously worked as a head teacher, explained that teaching staff want their pupils to feel as relaxed as possible when sitting exams. A traditional clock could end up making them feel stressed, he said.

“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.”

After a presentation on the matter during the Partners in Excellence conference in London, numerous teachers took to social media to share their experiences.

Head of English at Ruislip High School in north-west London, Stephanie Keenan, wrote that her school now uses digital clocks because many year nine, ten and eleven pupils can’t tell the time on an analogue clock.

Children are expected to know how to tell the time before they reach secondary school age, said Mr Trobe, but this isn’t always the case.

“It may be a little sad if youngsters coming through aren’t able to tell the time on clock faces,” he noted, adding: “One hopes that we will be teaching youngsters to read clocks, however we can see the benefit of digital clocks in exam rooms.”

Several months back, a senior paediatric doctor said that children are losing the ability to grip pens and pencils due to an excessive use of technology.

Sally Payne, head paediatric occupational therapist for the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust, said: “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.”

Ms Payne explained how it’s easier to give an iPad to a child than encourage them to take part in activities which encourage muscle building, like cutting, sticking or pulling toys. “Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil,” she concluded.

Do you think that teens being unable to read analogue clocks is cause for concern, or simply a sign of the times?



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3 thoughts on “Teens cannot tell time

  1. Teachers should TEACH children to read the traditional clock face. Those who pander to every slight problem and promote policies to avoid educating children are a disgrace to the profession.

  2. The AS and A2 classes that I teach seem to have no trouble at all reading a traditional clock face – they know exactly when it’s time to go home.

  3. I was taught how to read the clock by my parents as a 6-year old. I can’t imagine a teenager not being able to do it.

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