The Fun They Had
By Isaac Asimov
Image Reference: adventuresfantastic.com
“The Fun They Had” is a science fiction by an American writer Isaac Asimov. It is set in the future in the year 2157 when perhaps, there will be no schools and no books. This story first appeared in a children’s newspaper in 1951 and was reprinted in the February 1954 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It is about computerized home schooling where children are taught by a mechanical teacher. The story satirizes the way children are mechanically tuned by schools and parents. It is a warning to the new-gen parents and teachers.
In the year 2157, Margie and Tommy are neighbours and good friends. They do not go to schools as they have their school at home. Their teachers are computerized machines and books are electronic tablets. One day Tommy brings a very old paper book to Margie and tells her that it belonged to his great grandfather’s grandfather’s time. The kids can’t believe that there was a time when children went to a building called school where many children sat together to learn different subjects from a human teacher. They thought that the schools of the past were fun and the children were happier than them.
Short and Long Answer Type Questions
Q. How old are Margie and Tommy?
Ans. Margie is a girl of eleven while Tommy is a boy of thirteen. They are neighbours and spend time together.
Q. What did Margie write in her diary?
Ans. Margie wrote on 17 May, 2157 that Tommy had found a real book in the attic of his house. It was an old book with yellow, crinkly pages.
Q. Had Margie ever seen a book before?
Ans. No, Margie had never seen a book before. She had only heard from her grandfather that his grandfather went to school as a boy and they read books that were printed on paper.
Q. What things about the book did she find strange?
Ans. As Margie lived in an era where students were taught by a mechanical teacher and all the books appeared on the screen. She found that the words on the printed book did not move as they did on the screen.
Q. What do you think a telebook is?
Ans. A telebook is an electronic book also known as an e-book. It is stored in a computer and can be read by scrolling up or down the screen.
Q. Where was Margie’s school? Did she have any classmates?
Ans. Margie’s school was in her house. It was a room next to her bedroom where she studied by herself on a computer screen and had no classmates.
Q. What subjects did Margie and Tommy learn?
Ans. Margie and Tommy learnt a lot of subjects like Geography, History and Mathematics.
Q. What kind of teachers did Margie and Tommy have?
Ans. Margie and Tommy had mechanical teachers. They were computers which had preloaded lessons on different subjects according to the learner’s level. Whenever they malfunctioned, they were opened and repaired.
Q. Why did Margie’s mother send for the County Inspector?
Ans. Margie’s mother called the County Inspector to check Margie’s teacher. She thought that probably, Margie’s teacher had a malfunction. Margie was failing the Geography tests repeatedly which could be due to a fault in the teacher.
Q. What did he do?
Ans. The County Inspector was trained to repair the computer teacher. He opened the machine and checked it. The Geography sector was set on a higher level. He reset it to Margie’s level and closed the teacher.
Q. Why was Margie doing badly in geography? What did the County Inspector do to help her?
Ans. Margie was failing in the Geography tests as the teacher had developed a fault. The County Inspector told Margie’s mother that Margie was not at fault. Her progress was good. He reset the teacher to Margie’s level.
Q. What had once happened to Tommy’s teacher?
Ans. Once Tommy’s teacher had developed a fault as the entire section on History had been deleted. His teacher had been taken for repairs and it took them a month to set it right.
Q. Did Margie have regular days and hours for school? If so, why?
Ans. Margie studied at the same time every day, except Saturdays and Sundays. Her mother was very particular and had told Margie that she would learn better if she studied at the same time every day.
Q. How does Tommy describe the old kind of school?
Ans. Tommy said that in the old kind of schools, there was a man teacher who told a few things to the students, gave them home work and then asked them questions. The man teacher was as knowledgeable as the machine teacher.
Q. How does he describe the old kind of teachers?
Ans. He says that the old teachers were not the regular kind they had. They were human beings and not machines.
Q. What are the main features of the mechanical teachers and the schoolrooms that Margie and Tommy have in the story?
Ans. Margie and Tommy were taught by mechanical teachers. They had large black screens on which the lessons appeared. The lessons were followed by questions. The students had to insert homework and test papers in the slots provided. They had to write down the work in a punch code which was a computing language. The mechanical teacher checked the papers and gave them marks within a few seconds. These classrooms were in the student’s home itself. They did not have classmates. They studied various subjects like Geography, History and Mathematics. Margie studied every day at the same time except Saturdays and Sundays. The learning process was mechanical, dull and boring for them.
Q. Why did Margie hate school? Why did she think the old kind of school must have been fun?
Ans. Margie hated school because there was no fun. Her mechanical teacher was giving her tests in Geography and she was performing badly at them. Later it was discovered that the teacher had developed a fault due to which it was giving her tests of a higher level. The County Inspector opened the teacher and rectified it. Margie disliked the teacher and hated inserting the homework and test papers into the slot provided.
She thought that the children in the past must have had a lot of fun when they went to school with fellow children. She found it amazing that all the children studied and discussed together. As the teachers were people, they would not behave like machines. The human aspect of education in the past made her feel that the school of the past were fun.