While changing the battery of a former school clock (analog with numbers 1 – 12 on its round surface) in the presence of Anya, soon to be a sophomore in high school, I was told that approximately 60% of Anya’s classmates have trouble telling time on an analog clock.
Of course that’s because they rely on digital clocks on cell phones, computers, watches, and iPads.
What is happening? Common Core educational standards require that children are taught to tell time in the first or second grade. That is, they are taught on round analog clocks, hour hand, minute hand, etc.
But these round analog clocks are disappearing from homes, businesses and the walls of TV newsrooms and the kids don’t get to practice what they’ve learned in the first and second grades.
As a result, schools in this country and England are taking the analog clocks off their walls when the students get timed exams because they get confused by analog clocks, get tense and tend to panic.
You may think this change that is taking place is just a little bump on the road due to changing technology, but it is more, much more than that.
The abandonment of analog time keeping will create a change in our language, a change in the way we think about time and a change in our culture. World wide.
Take our friends in England, for example. London has the most famous clock in the world, the Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster. It is the cultural symbol of the entire United Kingdom. Completed in 1859 with a tower 315 feet high, it is the most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world. The pendulum, 13 feet long, weighs 660 pounds. It took 16 horses to pull the bell into place for hoisting onto the tower. When the bell and the chimes ring, will Londoners look up to the four round analog clock faces and say “what time is it?” I tremble to think of it.
When we’ve all converted to digital clocks, what will happen when the electricity goes out? Will time stand still?
When Hollywood wants to film a shootout at high noon, will high noon simply be a number on a cell phone? Drama requires a village (analog) clock hanging over the main street with the hour hand and the minute hand pointed straight up.
In the suspense stories of the future, what sound will replace the tick tock, tick tock we’ve come to expect? If our kids don’t hear it, we’ll be cheating them of one of the great sound effects of all time. Will we next eliminate the sound of stealthy footprints sneaking up on a victim?
Will the expression “around the clock” lose all its meaning? How will we define circular motion if nobody knows what “clockwise” and “counterclockwise” mean?
We know that, more and more, students can’t write in script. Cursive is cursed. Did you know that students are increasingly having trouble gripping pens, pencils and writing instruments because they write by punching keyboards on laptops and keypads? And when they can do that by voice, will human beings need fingers any longer? If not, how will we tie our own shoes?
We are at high noon in the understanding of time and we need to ring an alarm – if there will be any alarm clocks left. Yes, progress has us spinning counterclockwise.