# The absolute zero

A little booklet came home in my son’s schoolbag today.

The accompanying note from the teacher said it would allow children to practice ‘the correct formation of the numerals 1-10’.

So far so good.

This practice was useful, it went on, because many children get confused between the formation of letters – which are generally clockwise – and numbers – which are often anti-clockwise.

Hmmm, I thought, I didn’t know that.

Not to suggest for a moment that this is inaccurate, merely that I wasn’t consciously aware of it. Often we do things automatically without considering the method.

And so I sat my son down and we began with zero.

The little diagram was firm and unambiguous. 0 (zero) should be formed in an anti-clockwise motion.

I explained to my son the direction in which his zero should be formed.

Then I went to show him…..and did it clockwise.

This alarmed me slightly. So I went into a room by myself and scribbled the number 1,000,000.

And each of my zeros was formed in a clockwise motion.

Don’t get me wrong, I mean I was able to master the trick of writing it the other way (after a while). But when I did it automatically it was always clockwise.

The wrong way. Apparently.

Presumably I’ve been doing it the wrong way all my life.

Maybe it’s because I’m left-handed. Or maybe I was off school on the day we learnt to form 0.

I remember kids being beaten for just about everything when I was at primary school. But never for backward 0s.

It was all slightly humbling. My first thought was what else am I doing wrong without being aware of it?

And what have I missed out on because of my defective zeros? Is this the true cause of all my bad luck and failures.

Then I went back to the beginning. Letters should be clockwise. Numerals anti-clockwise. Any divergence from that and you risk mixing them up.

Well th3t’7 6as ne76r ha99en47 t0 m3 1 t5086ht.

I entirely support learning to do things the correct way. And the advantages of learning how to communicate clearly and effectively through good written script is undeniable.

But back in the real world is there any tangible advantage to forming 0 in an anti-clockwise direction? Is there any deleterious impact by forming my 0s backwards?

I’m interested to know what people think…

## 5 thoughts on “The absolute zero”

1. Marie Stewart says:

Left-handed freak!!!! I’ve always formed the letter ‘s’ from the bottom up, which I’m told is wrong, but I prefer to think it’s artistic. Zeros formed clockwise is unheard of!

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• You’ve clearly got too much time to think about things 🧐

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2. Lynn Sayers says:

I do my 0 anti-clockwise. Probably taught this about 1953!! NEVER aware of it till now. Thank you for a new thing to ponder !!!

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• I’m a neverending source of useless information 🧐

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• If you are writing the letter O, what direction do you go?

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