quinta-feira, 29 de outubro de 2009

How did you learn to tell the time? Here's a new method...

We all have to learn to tell the time, and many of us probably can't remember how we ever managed to do so. What you might recall is how difficult it was, and this is something I've been reminded of in recent years as my children have started learning about clocks.

After all, it's hard to do things in 60s. It would all be so much easier if minutes were 100 seconds and hours were a hundred minutes. And all that big hand/little hand stuff is very complicated too. One minute we're saying that a hand on the one means one o'clock. The next we're saying it means five past the hour. How confusing....

Jamie Rugge-Price first thought about this when his children - who are now grown-up and have children of their own - were small. He also spoke to various teachers about it and realised that they found telling the time frustrating to teach. It took a while, but he finally decided to do something about it.

Aramazu "Telling the time is a basic life skill," he says. "It should be easy and fun, but it isn't. Then I had a Eureka moment. I thought 'what shape is an hour?' If it could be visualised, telling the time would be so much easier."

Jamie decided to come up with a concept for telling the time, and he called it a nonsense name (and acronym of his four daughters' names), Aramazu.

I shall briefly stop the story for a moment. I get sent a lot of things - books, teaching aids etc - and look at them all. Some impress me more than others. I have to admit that I was very impressed by Aramazu, and especially when my son, who's four, started to understand the concept of telling the time. He understood the hours and half pasts (seen in this method as time climbing a mountain) very quickly. The minutes were a bit more complicated, but he was still keen to learn more.

Jamie wrote about his method in a series of storybooks. The key to them is how visual they are - an hour is the shape of a mountain, and it takes 30 minutes to walk to the top of the hour or down to the half past. The hour hand is a finger, and the minute hand a foot.

Jamie tested the books and refined them. Then he tested them again. The results have been good; unsurprisingly he just wants more people to know about it.

Cheryl Hossle is a Year 1/2 teacher at a state school in the Forest of Dean. She has used the Aramazu method for teaching children to tell the time for the last two years and is very impressed. She also acts as an educational consultant to Jamie.

"Aramazu is not abstract," she says. "From the books the children can see why we need time, and how everything can go wrong if we don't have it. They can also work out how to use the feet and finger method. They make the connections."

Hossle says that this method works well for dyslexic children too, because it is so visual. "It addresses thinking skills and is humorous," she says. "I've been very pleased with the results we've had".

The Aramazu method (you can see a clock in the illustration) comes in different forms, for children of different ages. As I say, I am quite convinced by it, and would be interested to know what other people think. Or if anyone has any other brilliant ways to teach children how to tell the time.

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