The Internet is abuzz over an article that claims that U.K. schools are removing analog clocks from classrooms because students can’t read them. But is telling time, much like writing cursive, really going extinct? Probably not.
“The current generation isn’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), told The Telegraph, explaining that kids are more used to seeing things digitally.
However, what many people miss is what Trobe said next—that the real reason schools are considering replacing analog clocks with digital ones is to make exams less stressful for students.
“Schools will inevitably be doing their best to make young children feel as relaxed as they can be,” he explained to the British newspaper. “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.”
According to Trobe, students can more quickly estimate how many minutes they have left on a test when they’re looking at a digital clock.
So far, the clock-replacing initiative is only being considered in U.K. schools. In the U.S., kids who attend public schools that follow the Common Core curriculum are still taught how to tell time. The specific curriculum standard states that in first grade, students must be able to “tell and write time in hours and half-hours using analog and digital clocks.”
It’s a skill that Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, doesn’t think will go away anytime soon in America. “There’s a lot of very complex mathematical manipulations that are involved in being able to tell time with an analog clock,” Burris told CBS. “It takes some of the math skills students are learning and gives them an important real-world context.”