Time to retire the clock?
We’re constantly being told that the mathematics curriculum must represent real life situations. I completely agree with this and as we’re living in a digital age, it’s never been more important.
The maths curriculum in Ireland has managed to sway us into the world of decimalisation. We don’t talk to children about inches, feet, pounds or stones anymore in school though they might hear them from their American and British counterparts. Most recently we stopped talking about the other pounds and moved swiftly onto Euros without much effort.
However, no one has mentioned teaching time.
Before I begin, I’m not going to argue (yet) that we should scrap teaching time the way we currently do. However, let’s start by asking the question of where we see digital clocks?
Within a minute, you’ll probably come up with several answers: mobile phones, DVD players, ovens, wrist watches, alarms, alarm clocks, pedometers, stopwatches, etc. Now, try the same for an analogue clock.
Was this your first thought?
Aside from iconic buildings and Vladamir Putin’s watch collection, there’s very little left that analogue clocks are used for. However, the emphasis on teaching time at primary school level is on this very type of clock.
Many will argue of the clock’s aesthetic value or that it is “easier” to learn than a digital clock (due to numbers only going up to 12 rather than 59). Many will argue that the analogue clock also feeds into other strands of the curriculum such as angles or times tables. However, wouldn’t it be more relevant to teach the digital clock first, i.e. 1:00 is one o’clock, 2:00 is two o’clock and so on. As children get older, we can convert between digital and analogue starting with the digital rather than the other way around. We can add in am and pm then 24 hour time later.
While I’m pretty sure the analogue clock isn’t going to go away completely in my lifetime, its role has certainly depleted in the last 10 years. Should the Irish curriculum start planning its retirement by lessening its importance? Do you ever see a day where the analogue clock will be no more? Is this your vision of Big Ben in the future?