Sunday, November 6, 2016

Time (and time again)

We keep time in class, as we do pretty much everywhere. I've got several analog clocks and one less precise (and less useful) box of digital time.

We pretend that days are exactly 24 hours long, and that each hour is as well proscribed and linear as the next. This is not true, and will not be for millions of years.

Kids know otherwise instinctively, of course, at least until we train educate them.

An hour in December lasts exactly as long as an hour in June these days, but that was not always true. Hours were invented by a mammal that paid attention--daylight was divided into 12 portions, with noon defined as when the sun was at its highest point for the day.

Last hour of the day
We started school here in Bloomfield in September--the daylight hours shrink dramatically this time of year.  We had over 12 hours of sunlight the first day of school. Tomorrow we will have just minutes more than 10 hours.

The sunlight we do get have is more oblique and less intense, long shadows and less light. We pretend our hours are equitable throughout the year.

Science teachers will make a big deal about this, explaining the seasons using globes and lamps, but if we've taught our children that sunlight does not matter, that the clock matters more than your hypothalamus, that we eat at noon, not when you're hungry, well, then, we should stop feigning shock when children really don't pay much attention to sunlight.

None of the adults around them do, either.

A clock in front of our library, from NJ State Library Photo Collection

If college graduates do not know why seasons happen, or how trees accumulate mass, or what forces act on a basketball in flight, maybe it's not because our children refuse to learn.

Maybe it's because they internalized what we've been teaching them all along....

Yes, another cyclical post--I love the rhythms of life.

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