This year, teaching my kids how to tell time has been quite a challenge. Teaching this group of kids anything this year has been challenging, but telling time is usually a skill that is picked up rather quickly. That has not yet been the case. The "Time" unit is usually a couple of weeks in length. The kids come into 2nd grade with a basic understanding of the hands on the clock and telling time to the hour. With that background, delving into telling time to five minutes is a natural progression. This year's group (the entire grade level in fact) didn't come in quite as proficient in the prerequisite skills. We could see that the skills had been taught last year because a handful had it and another handful had it with some holes. After the two weeks were up, we gave an assessment and the results were less than stellar. A round of reteach (grouping by instructional needs) was decided upon, and we spent another two weeks on that skill. Again we assessed, and while we had more kids score proficient that time around, we still had many who weren't - far more than the norm.
In the midst of the "Time" unit, Parent/Teacher conferences were scheduled, and based on the results of the assessments, we mentioned the struggle with telling time as necessary and recommended some practice at home as well. During one such meeting, a set of parents mentioned their lack of a traditional clock in the family home. They had cell phones, and digital clocks on the oven, microwave, TV, DVD player, etc. but not one analog clock in the house...not even a watch.
When the power went out and then came back on last weekend, I ran around the house resetting clocks (the ones that weren't automatically set by satellite), and you know what? I don't have an analog clock anywhere in my house either. I do wear a watch with hands, but other than that not a one. It got me thinking about this group of kids and why telling time has been so difficult for them. It's very likely these kids are growing up in a house that doesn't have an analog clock, and since most clocks we see out-and-about are digital, school may be the ONLY place they see one.
Telling time to 5 minutes on an analog clock is a Common Core standard in 2nd grade (and used to be with the CA State Standards as well before the shift), and I've always taught it with gusto...it's a life skill so very important. But now I'm wondering if it is in fact a life skill anymore when school is the only place they will have to use it. Telling time on an analog clock is barely relevant to them anymore.
I'm having a hard time rationalizing why we would need to teach it anymore, but also having a hard time rationalizing not teaching because for all the previous generations of kids it was necessary. Is it a hindrance to not know how when they rarely, if ever, see an analog clock? It reminds me some about learning to drive. When I was learning to drive, every adult told me how important it was to know how to drive a stick/manual shift car - a life skill of sorts. But I didn't know anyone who had one, so I never learned. Since getting my license a hundred years ago I have been faced with needing to know how to drive a stick maybe a total of 2 times - once in a designated driver situation and once when needing to borrow a car. Both a bit inconvenient, but not life altering.
On the other hand, I still wish I had learned. So maybe it is important they learn to tell time, even if it's only at school...just in case.
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