. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Time is of the Essence

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Time is of the Essence

C.S. Lewis once wrote:

The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.

Unless he is a fourth grader who still cannot read a clock with hands. For that child, time is definitely abstract.

At the end of the day, the clock in our classroom looks like this. Our day ends at 2:20.

We have a giant multi-colored schedule hanging in the front of the room which also indicates our dismissal time is 2:20.

We are entering our seventh month of school and we have left daily at 2:20.

For any normal person, this overwhelming evidence would indicate that at 2:20 our work is done here and we will be heading home.

Unless he is a fourth grader who still cannot read a clock with hands.

And for whom does the school bell toll? It tolls for thee...

...unless Thee's real name is Larry and he is a fourth grader who still cannot read a clock with hands.

RRRRIIIIINNNNNNGGGGGGG! The glorious sound of freedom bursts from the bell outside our classroom one Friday afternoon. After placing his chair atop his desk as instructed, Larry strapped his overstuffed backpack onto his back and strolled up to me with untied shoelaces, wearing an inside-out jacket, and carrying a hopeful question on the tip of his lips.

Larry: Are we going to go to the computer lab today?
Me: (Thinking in my head: What, are you kidding me?!?!)

Now, I know his intention was not to frustrate me. If this had been any other student, this "question" may have even been a snarky reference to the fact that we have not made it to the computer lab in two weeks, (talk to George W. Bush about that one) but I honestly don't think he is capable of such sly reasoning.

Me: Well, no Larry. I'm sorry but we are not going to make it today. Just look at the time. What time is is?

Larry looks behind me at the clock on the wall.

Larry: 10:20?

Just think about it Readers... imagine the minutes on a clock and you'll understand why he thought it was 10:20. Taken on face value, I could justify that incorrect answer.

But there was overwhelming evidence that the time was 2:20! Must I go through the list again?!

Me: Really? Would you say it's 10:20 in the morning or in the evening?
Larry: In the evening?

(Again, I can see the reasoning...but what about all this evidence?!?!?)

Me: Ok, let's look at this logically. What time do you eat dinner in the evening?
Larry: 6:00
Me: What time do you go to bed in the evening?
Larry: 8:30
Me: Would you say that 10:20 comes after both of those times in the evening?
Larry: Yes
Me: Have you done either of those things yet today?
Larry: Nope
Me: Ok, so now think about what we're all doing right now in our classroom. What time do these things happen?
Larry: uummm...10:20?
Me: (Thinking in my head: Seeeeriously! ARE you KIDDING me?!) Ok, Larry. What are we doing right now?
Larry: Getting ready to go home.
Me: Now I want you to look at the schedule right there and tell me what time we go home.
Larry: 2:20
Me: Ok, great! So then what time is it right now?
Larry: 10:20?

We teachers have natural instincts that drive us to grab the teachable moments and run with them. (Admit it! You thought I was going to say we have natural instincts to grab people like Larry by the throat, didn't you?) We see that Larry is baffled by an analog clock, so we whip out our trusty Judy Clock (you elementary teachers out there know what I'm talking about) and begin a quick review on how to read the hands on a clock.

Evidently, those natural instincts are not as powerful for me, especially on a Friday.

The "Get Me The Hell Outta Here" instinct seemed a bit stronger.

Me: (through gritted teeth) It's 2:20, Larry. The clock reads 2:20. The schedule says we leave at 2:20. We are packing up to leave because it's 2:20. You are wearing your backpack because it's 2:20 and we are about to leave because...?

Larry: ...it's 10:20?


Mimi said...

I am dying!!! That is hysterical!! That happens to me all the time with the little ones but I can't believe you're still dealing with this!

Last week we sang Fifty Nifty United States for an assembly. Needless to say, we practiced it about 10,000 times. One students looked at me after singing it for the 10,001st time and said, "Wait, there are 50 states?"

Sometimes I just want to cry quietly in the corner.

Mister Teacher said...

I come in from lunch with my kids (12:30 or so), and ask what time it is, and a little girl tells me 5:30.

WHY are we still at school if it's 5:30? I should be getting my Margerita on by then!!

Edna Lee said...

I try to make it a rule to be at least 1/2 way through that first Margarita by 5:30, and if that means I have to start it while I'm still on the freeway, so be it.

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