In praise of those analog clocks that aren’t going away quite yet

According to Snopes, the viral story “Are Schools Removing Analog Clocks Because Students Can’t Read Them?” is mostly false. Like viral memes and tweets about political issues, this story got twisted up through multiple re-tellings so that when all was said and done, people were shouting out silly ideas as gospel.

For one thing, the story–such as it was–focused on the U. K. and not the U. S. Heck, we haven’t even embraced the metric system yet, partly because speeds posted in kilometers sound really fast and partly because cookbook publishers don’t know how to translate a “dash of this” or “a pinch of that” into milligrams.

I’ll stipulate that some of the clock makers who don’t bother with numbers should pay a little more attention to the length of the hands. The example here is easy enough to read, but sometimes, all the hands look the same. Could be a problem.

Now, I wish I could say that–like analog-recorded music that sounds much more real than digital recordings–analog clocks make time sound better. So far, my research shows that they don’t. Of course they do give a hint that time has something to do with where the sun is because the hour hand might remind you of the sundial in your garden, assuming you have a garden with a sundial and it’s not night or cloudy. I learned as a child that shining a flashlight on a sundial at night didn’t provide the correct time.

Some of those who believed that analog clocks were being thrown in dumpsters faster than used toilet paper said that teachers had better things to do than teach kids how to tell time. My teacher didn’t teach how to tell time. I knew how to do that fifteen minutes after I was born since the hospital sundial was right outside my room.

Malcolm