Arrowsmith Student Cracks 10-handed Clock

Ben Robinson

Ben Robson once had trouble telling the time on a two-handed clock.

Now, after a year studying with the Arrowsmith Program at Darling Downs Christian School (DDCS), Ben takes just eight seconds to decode the 10 hands of a specially designed analogue clock.

And it seems he has done what many thought was impossible.

“The computer wasn’t even set up to pass because they didn’t think anyone could do it,” DDCS Arrowsmith coordinator Glenda Fitzpatrick said.

“But Ben passed the test three times.”

The Arrowsmith Program was developed over 30 years in Canada, based on the emerging science of neuroplasticity to strengthen learning capacities in children and adults facing a wide range of learning disabilities.

For these students, understanding a conversation, tackling maths or even deciphering a joke could be a major challenge.

One of many unique cognitive exercises the students study, deciphering clocks which move progressively from two hands up to 10, helps to develop reasoning abilities and improve reading comprehension and maths problem solving.

The clocks are flashed up on a computer screen for students to decode, with speed and accuracy essential in progressing through each stage.

“It’s a complex exercise and you have to be able to tell exactly where you are in time and build relationships between the hands,” Mrs Fitzpatrick said.

The program, now offered at schools throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia, takes students up to at the very least, a six-handed clock.

However, some students, like Ben, are pushed further, depending on their abilities.

The shy 6ft 5 teenager moved with his mother to Toowoomba last year to take part in the program.

“I heard someone talking about the program on ABC radio and what they described was Ben,” Ben’s mother Robyn Robson said.

“We knew Ben was capable of achieving but in a classroom and stressful situations, he couldn’t get it out onto paper.”

Robyn described her son becoming increasingly withdrawn and unable to communicate.

“When you know your child does have a degree of intelligence, but seeing them not being able to fulfill their potential, it is heartbreaking.” Robyn said.

Robyn said she has witnessed a “big improvement” in Ben’s confidence since joining Arrowsmith, describing him as “becoming more socially confident and he now lets his sense of humour come out”.

There are currently 10 adults and more than 20 children taking part in the Arrowsmith program at DDCS.

“It’s a very intense program, but the benefits have been very worthwhile and Glenda is so supportive of all the students,” Robyn said.