Kids struggle with analog clocks, sign of changing times

Students attempt to read an analog clock in a classroom in Bakersfield, Calif., on Monday, May 7, 2018. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Schools in England are ditching analog clocks for digital clocks in school testing rooms, according to recent reports.

The reasoning behind the move is that not enough young people know how to read the clock, and they're miscalculating how much time they have left on tests.

The thinking is those occurrences lead to anxiety, poor time management and lower test scores.

While schools here in the U.S. aren't rushing to the same move and swapping analog clocks for digital ones just yet, it's a trend we may soon see.

Multiple studies released over the past several years show American children aren't good at telling time.

Eyewitness News conducted a small survey of 10 children, teens and young adults at a local tutoring facility and found only 3 of the 10 could correctly identify the time on the clock on their first attempt.

According to Bakersfield Tutoring Club Director Amanda Cawood, the issue is kids just don't feel like they need the clock.

"Nobody looks at the clock," Cawood said. "They look at a (digital) watch or cellphone. It's a dying art."

Of the students surveyed, many said they learned how to read a clock at some point, but many believed they'd forgotten how to read the clock after just a year or two.

Cawood said this trend doesn't only apply to clocks, but many other skills that are no longer emphasized in the digital age.

Texting and typing have replaced pen-and-paper writing, leading to poor penmanship. Spellcheck and autocorrect have replaced learning to spell. Calculators replaced basic math skills.

Digital clocks and thermometers have replaced knowing how to read either device.

To be fair there may never be another use for some of these skills. For example, no one is complaining that kids don't know how to use a sundial or hourglass to tell time.

However, tools like the clock provide kids with a lesson in critical thinking and problem solving by taking the abstract concept of time and giving it a physical representation. The clock embodies the planet as the hands rotate in sync with the Earth. There is much to be learned from the seemingly "old-school" technology.

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