June 9, 2010 | Teeny Manolo

Archive for June 9th, 2010

The Lost Art of Telling Time

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
By Glinda

Dali Clock

Not to brag or anything, but my kid, he was one of the first in line when they were handing out the brains.

Wait, that is bragging, isn’t it?

Well, tough.  I call it like it is.

He has sailed through math this year, except for one chapter.

The chapter where he had to look at a clock face and figure out what time it was.

We had visited this concept last year, and I thought he had retained it. But, there was some frustration along with wrong answers at homework time. You see, my home has absolutely zero old-timey clock faces. And yes, I am going to label them old-timey. I don’t care if that makes you feel old.  If it does make you feel old, you probably are.  Again, telling it like it is.  Ahem, back to the story…

 If we had inherited a certain grandfather clock, then we would have one, but we didn’t and so each and every clock in the house is digital. The one on the microwave, the one on the stove, the DVR, all the bedroom clocks. And yes, I do have some watches, but wouldn’t you know, all of them needed new batteries and were thus useless in demonstrating how the big hand follows the little hand around in a circle. I found myself biting back a flippant, “You know, the hands go in a clockwise direction!”  Which of course, he really had no frame of reference for and would not have found the least bit enlightening.

Even though telling time on a clock face is second nature to me, my son has grown up with a distinct lack of them. There might be a few scattered here and there in his life, such as at the library, but not enough to make any impact upon him. He doesn’t even have one in his classroom.

So try explaining to someone totally unfamiliar with the concept of an old-timey (yes, yes, it makes me feel old, too) clock and how it works, and you are met with a blank stare. And possibly a question as to why anyone would use such a complicated time-telling device when you could just look at the numbers on a digital clock. 

We struggled a bit.

Eventually, of course, he got it, but I began wondering if telling time this way was already pretty much obsolete. And if, in this age of computers and cell phones, if reading a clock face is a skill that needs an entire math chapter devoted to it.

What do you think?

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