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Does anyone really know what time it is?

November 3, 2019

The Chicago Transit Authority’s hit from their first album asks:

Does anybody really know what time it is? (I don’t)

Does anybody really care? (care about time)

If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)

We’ve all got time enough to cry.

Over the last few years, I have been wondering about clocks, digital vs. conventional, and the usefulness of such instruments in schools. For a variety of reasons, traditional, analog clocks are a challenge to keep synchronized, especially in buildings that have been renovated several times over the years. Also, each building has multiple versions of the classroom clock. The maintenance staff spends a lot of time (no pun intended), adjusting and working on these antiquated timepieces, often to no avail. Clocks with Arabic numerals first appeared in the mid-18th century. As with many tools used in classrooms, the efficacy of such devices may no longer be relevant in the 21st-century. Yet, it is still frustrating for students and staff when the clocks are inaccurate. 

As I have visited schools, I note the type of clocks used and how many devices are in various areas – meaning are they in classrooms or just common areas. I have seen just about everything – no clocks at all, conventional clocks in all spaces, digital in all, and a blend of the two. In large areas used for standardized testing, students must face a wall with a working clock. We have resorted to bringing in inexpensive, battery-operated analog clocks due to the reliability of those devices.

The trend I have noticed recently is fewer clocks in classrooms, hallways, and common areas. The clocks are almost exclusively digital. One new technological feature is the option to display messages on the digital clocks as well. Thus, in an emergency, essential safety messages can be transmitted at a glance throughout a building.

In 2018, across classrooms in the United Kingdom, analog clocks were replaced with digital. The main reason for the switch is that students were unable to read the analog clock faces. In primary classrooms in the UK, students are not taught to read a clock to “tell time.”

Is it time for Saline Schools to consider a similar move?

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