Toying with parents

Parents are buying the Time Tracker to prepare their children for standardized tests, the New York Times says. But is that the motivation?

Shaped like a colorful peppermill, with a digital readout panel, lights that suggest a traffic intersection and an electronic male voice that booms “Begin” and “Time’s up,” the Time Tracker, which sells for a list price of $34.95, has turned into a surprise hit of the holiday season, according to some toy sellers. By using the tracker during playtime, homework or any other activity, children are supposed to develop a sense of passing time – 20 minutes, half an hour, an hour – that translates into better management during tests. Siren sounds indicate when a certain period has gone by, and the lights switch from green to yellow to red to demonstrate how close the child is to the end of the allotted time.

Contrary to what the story implies, children don’t take “make or break” tests in elementary school, except for a few states that test for basic reading and math skills before promoting children to the next grade. Students who fail lack more than time management techniques. They lack basic reading and math skills.

The Time Tracker has become the top-selling toy for Learning Resources, which bills it as a way to keep kids on track, not necessarily as an SAT prep tool.

Perfect for: Study sessions, Projects, Tests, Experiments, Practice sessions, Classroom Assignments, Cooking, Hearing impaired and hundreds more uses.

I suspect most parents who buy Time Tracker want their kids to limit video game playing time or practice piano for a full 30 minutes. I can’t believe they’re worried about time management for test taking; it’s just too bizarre.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. fascinating. Think about everything you may have heard about “multiculturalism” vis-vis time management. One of the ways cultures differ is how their adherents measure, experience, verbalize and, ultimately, manage time. We hear that connection with this or that culture confers a free pass on timeliness requirements for this reason. The notion extends to psycholinguistics, as we consider the interplay between temporal marking and mastery of the environment.

    What we have here is a case or parents consciously rearing their children to skilled time managers. I would advise those parents to further this process by meticulous use of tense in speech training, but I’ll bet they already know this. Ich lehre euch den Ubermensch.

  2. The lead-in to the NYT article on this appeared right next to the article on Jeri Ellsworth, a 30-year-old woman who developed an early interest in computers, electronics, and race cars, and has now created a successful product. If her parents had attempted to program her using such techniques as the Time Tracker, I wonder if she would ever have developed the same level of creativity?

  3. mike from oregon says:

    The story made me laugh – to me, it’s just one more gimmick to part parents from their money; but hey who can argue with ‘filling a niche’, or perceived niche. Come on, almost the same thing can be accomplished by an old fashioned timer or hourglass (w/sand) type timer.

    The problem with most tests is wasting time ‘stuck’ on a question. Age old techniques on HOW to take a test ring as true today as they have for years. Of course, that is one of the problems, it’s not ‘NEW’ therefore someone has to figure out another ‘modern’ angle on the situation/problem. Teach someone how to take a test and the time management problem is moot.

    Along those same lines, I’m now doing ‘age old’ body weight exercises which is increasing my flexibility and strength much faster and safer than weight lifting. To use weights as a measuring stick, doing the body weight exercises (which folks have done for over 1,000+ years) my bench press has increased over what I was able to do using standard ‘modern’ weight exercises; sometimes, old is better.

  4. Mike in Texas says:

    Joanne wrote:

    Contrary to what the story implies, children don’t take “make or break” tests in elementary school, except for a few states that test for basic reading and math skills before promoting children to the next grade.

    And that doesn’t constitute a make or break test. I know you have your own agenda to push Joanne but this is a downright fabrication. Try to stick to lies that aren’t so easily verified.

    New York City, Texas. Any of that ring a bell?

    I can’t believe they’re worried about time management for test taking; it’s just too bizarre.

    You can’t believe it but its true; just another wonderful unintended consequence of NCLB.

  5. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Try to stick to lies that aren’t so easily verified.

    You planning to verify any of these lies – whatever the hell that means – or should we just take you at your word – whatever that’s worth?

    just another wonderful unintended consequence of NCLB.

    Yeah, and any minute now hordes of enraged parents will descend on Washington to tell their elected representatives, in no uncertain terms, that their school doesn’t need no steenking standards. Any minute now.

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Will this work if your kids are 42 and 51?

  7. mike from oregon says:

    If I had stock in the company that makes them it would Walter (grin). Merry Christmas.

  8. Mike in Texas says:

    You planning to verify any of these lies – whatever the hell that means – or should we just take you at your word – whatever that’s worth?

    Texas has high stakes tests for 8 year olds. Pass it or you flunk the 3rd grade. If you decide to write a test and sell it Allen make sure you include instructions on what to do with tests nervous 8 year olds have vomited on. Its a serious problem. New York City and Florida also have similiar requirements; pass it or you spend another year in the 3rd grade no matter how well you’ve done throughout the school year. But yet Joanne claims few students are subject to make or break tests. I guess she could be correct if you don’t define “few” as a million or so kids.

  9. Mike in Texas says:

    and any minute now hordes of enraged parents will descend on Washington to tell their elected representatives, in no uncertain terms, that their school doesn’t need no steenking standards

    Right now there’s a whole bunch of white, middle class parents who are wondering why their kids schools, labeled as Blue Ribbon Schools by the Dept. of Education, have also been labeled “failing” by the dept. of ed. Also, when the feds (Republicans and their rich buddies) start trying to take over 6 million dollar school buildings paid for by local taxes, as Dubaya et.al. want to do under NCLB then the doo doo will really hit the fan.

  10. Mike in Texas wrote:

    I guess she could be correct if you don’t define “few” as a million or so kids.

    According to the NCES, in 2004 there were 53,800,000 students in all level of elementry and secondary education. That would make about 1.8% of the K-12 population the subject of high-stakes testing. Maybe Joanne was defining “few” as 1.8%. That seems like a pretty small percentage so which would make Joanne accurate and you a clumsy, and easily revealed, slanderer.

    Right now there’s a whole bunch of white, middle class parents who are wondering why their kids schools, labeled as Blue Ribbon Schools

    Are they? Where’d you hear about this? Meet up with plenty of them? Maybe you ought to just tell us the source of this insight.

    Oh, and while you’re trying to flog those waskely Wepublicans with the NCLB, remember to include that most unRepublican of the NCLB’s sponsors, Ted Kennedy. Just how does he fit in with your “Republicans and their rich buddies” fantasy?

  11. Mike in Texas says:

    Ted Kennedy. Just how does he fit in with your “Republicans and their rich buddies” fantasy?

    If you’re trying to imply Ted Kennedy is my hero you’re way off base. Ted Kennedy should’ve have been thrown in jail years ago for that bridge accident but instead used his family’s power to avoid any consequences. I also think he’s a colossal jackass and whatever district he lives in a Mass., the people there should have to undergo a sanity check before being allowed to vote.

    But you’re right Allen, I shouldn’t be singling out Republicans, I should just start using the word “politicians” to express my contempt for all of them.

  12. Mike in Texas says:

    As far as the Blue Ribbon schools, there were 46 of them labeled as failing by the same people who labeled them among the best in the country.

  13. Mike in Texas wrote:

    If you’re trying to imply Ted Kennedy is my hero you’re way off base.

    No. What I’m making perfectly obvious is that even among the leftest of the elected left, the call for accountability is impossible to ignore. That makes the NCLB something other then an attempt to “Republicans and their rich buddies” to make a buck off the teetering-on-the-edge-of-insolvancy American public education system.

    But you’re right Allen, I shouldn’t be singling out Republicans, I should just start using the word “politicians” to express my contempt for all of them.

    Then, by extension, you’re expressing contempt for the people that elected them. It is, after all, a representative form of government which is probably the worst thing you could say about it. If you want to have a better class of politician then you’d better start rounding up a better class of electorate. Start by taking a hard look at yourself.