Fact Check: Are Schools Really Removing Analog Clocks From Classrooms?

Kids today, am I right? Probably not. A widely circulated Buzzfeed article published in April 2018 that suggested schools are getting rid of “old school” analog clocks because teens can’t read them made grumpy adults all over social media groan and face-palm. But how much truth is there to this claim? It turns out: some, but not very much. And the story’s framing was sensational at best.

Analog clocks, unlike digital clocks, have moving “hands” that point to hours marked 1 through 12 to indicate the current time. They are simple to learn how to use (for most) and take very little mental fortitude to understand. But sensational headlines would cause readers to believe that kids today are too dumb to read them.

Dubious and misleading headlines

Some Schools Removing Analog Clocks Because Kids Can’t Read Them – CBS Philly

Schools Are Now Removing Analog Clocks Because Children Can’t Read Them – McGill Media

Schools are removing analogue clocks from exam halls as teenagers ‘cannot tell the time’ – The Telegraph

The Telegraph’s article in particular was most taken out of context by readers on social media. A statement made by Malcolm Trobe, the deputy general of the Association of School and College Leaders said that kids today aren’t good at reading them.

“The current generation isn’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” he said. [1]

But as is often the case, folks didn’t read all the way through. Trobe continues: “Schools will inevitably be doing their best to make young children feel as relaxed as they can be. 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.”

Read: Empathy Is Being Taught As a Value in Danish Schools

Analog clocks are here to stay

And there it is. As snopes is quick to point out, UK schools were considering removing analog clocks during examinations and replacing them with digital clocks because some students had difficulty estimating the remaining time when using this type of clock.

But, broadly speaking, schools in the UK are not removing analog clocks from all classrooms and young people today, by and large, can read analog clocks without issue. 

Something else to consider is that not everyone is able to read analog clocks, period. For example, Dyscalculia, which is a disability that causes difficulty learning and comprehending arithmetic, is well known to cause people not to be able to read analog clocks with ease. [3]

So before you give yourself too much of a thrill touting your superior clock reading skills, consider whether the story your sharing is accurately framed, whether or not you actually understand what’s happening, and how including more digital clocks in classrooms could actually be helpful.

Read next: School Nurse Begs Parents To Donate Feminine Hygiene Products For Students Who Can’t Afford Them

Sources:

  1. “Schools are removing analogue clocks from exam halls as teenagers ‘cannot tell the time’.” The Telegraph. Accessed November 30, 2020.
  2. “Are Schools Removing Analog Clocks Because Students Can’t Read Them?” Snopes. Kim Lacapria. Accessed November 30, 2020.
  3. “What is dyscalculia?” Understood. Accessed November 30, 2020.
Thomas Nelson
Environmental Advocate
Thomas is an environmental advocate currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. In his spare time, he enjoys experiencing the outdoors, raising chickens and ducks, and reading about current environmental issues. Despite slight colorblindness, his favorite color is green.