Teaching Digital Time: Can We Forget About Analogue Clocks?

Teaching Digital Time: Can We Forget About Analogue Clocks?

If the future is digital, do young people need to learn how to read an analogue clock? We investigate the classic old VS new conundrum and explore whether we should just be teaching digital time…

Tech has taken over. Most teenagers are used to seeing digital clocks on their phones, tablets and laptops. They are obsessed with devices and gadgets so young people are now digitally habituated. Digital clocks have even been used in GCSE and A-Level exam halls since 2018 because many young people complained they could not read analogue clocks.

So is there no room for analogue skills in our tech-obsessed world? Should we be focusing on teaching digital time and do away with other analogue skills like learning how to add and subtract without a calculator or how to spell without spell-check? Could doing things less digitally benefit youngsters and help them discover better ways of being and learning?

Most schools teach children to tell time using an analogue clock  in year 1 and 2 but surprisingly a lot of KS3-5 still struggle to tell the time.  

Malcom Trobe, an educational specialist consultant at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said: “The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,”

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”.

Founder of parenting site ChannelMum.com, Siobhan Freegard said: “Telling the time is a basic life skill that children should learn. As children grow up surrounded by devices using the digital clock it is definitely making it harder, but certainly not impossible.”

She added: “being able to tell analogue time is essential for later life, especially if kids want to travel as it’s used worldwide ‎and at a younger age it regularly features on exam questions”.

Time management specialists believe that analogue clocks can teach young people that time moves – this is something digital clocks can’t do. 

Academic coach Leslie Josel says: “The problem with digital is that it only gives you one time—the present,” Josel says in her video series. “You can’t see what came before it or how much time you have left.”

The more young people “see” time, the better they’ll be able to manage it. Time management is a skill they’ll always need, no matter what new digital phenomenon takes over our world. 

Do you think analogue skills are outdated? Leave your thoughts down below.

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