As our age becomes more technological, we’ve become more dependant on the our screens. And this has had a very dramatic effect on schools in the United Kingdom, where teachers have been changing their analogue clocks in exam halls over to digital clocks because students are now having difficulty reading them.
Malcolm Trobe, who is deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), told The Telegraph how students younger than 18 have become more accustomed to digital services.
“The current generation aren’t as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations,” he explained. “They are used to seeing a digital representation of time on their phone, on their computer. Nearly everything they’ve got is digital so youngsters are just exposed to time being given digitally everywhere.”
Trobe, who has worked as a former principal, said that teachers want their kids to be as relaxed in an exam setting, and traditional clocks could add unnecessary stress. He added that schools are trying to make everything as “easy and straightforward as possible.”
“You don’t want them to put their hand up to ask how much time is left,” Trobe said.
“Schools will inevitably be doing their best to make young children feel as relaxed as the 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.”
Stephanie Keenan, who is head of English at Ruislip High School in north-west London, told The Telegraph that her school was one of the many schools to make the switch. A head of department at Cockermouth School and chair of the West Cumbria Network, Cheryl Quine, said they did the same “when some [students] couldn’t read the exam room clock”.
Trobe says that clock face reading is taught in school, however he explained that many students still don’t fully comprehend by the time they reach high school level.
“It may be a little sad if youngsters coming through aren’t able to tell the time on clock faces,” he admitted. “One hopes that we will be teaching youngsters to read clocks, however we can see the benefit of digital clocks in exam rooms.”
Sally Payne, who is the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust, said back in 2018, that children are finding it harder to hold pens and pencils as a result of increased technology use.
“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills,” her warning was strong.
“It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”
As we consider the younger generations coming up behind us, are we beginning to see the beginnings of a sci-fi story that ends with the destruction of humanity?