THE FUN THEY HAD


By Isaac Asimov


THEME of ‘The Fun They Had’


In the story ‘The Fun They Had’, Isaac Asimov, envisioned a futuristic world where a highly mechanized education system would replace the traditional school system, robbing the children of the fun in the class with their peers. The advancement of science and technology would ensure convenient, error-free and fast paced education through computerized home schooling but with definite drawbacks. The author tries to bring out a contrast between technology based education and the manual teaching learning done in traditional schooling system.

Message of ‘The Fun They Had


The author in ‘The Fun They Had’ gives us the message that no matter how advanced, convenient and error-free, computerized home- schooling becomes, it can never compensate the overall development that traditional schooling provides. In computerized home schooling system, children will miss out the inter-personal and social skills that children develop while interacting with their peers and teachers. The human touch in schools goes a long way in creating priceless memories in the journey of life.

Thinking About the Text
Answer these questions in a few words or a couple of sentences each.

Q1.How old are Margie and Tommy?


Ans. Margie is eleven and Tommy is thirteen respectively.

Q2.What did Margie write in her diary?


Ans. On the page dated 17th May, 2157, Margie wrote: ‘Today Tommy found a real book!’

Q3.Had Margie ever seen a book before?


Ans. No, Margie had never seen a book printed in paper, as the books they used were all tele-books or e-books.

Q4.What things about the book did she find strange?


Ans. Margie found the book strange as the words stood still instead of moving like they did on the screen. It also amused her to see that the content remained the same when they flipped back the page.

Q5. What do you think a telebook is?


Ans. A telebook is an electronic book that can be read on a screen. It is an eBook with moving words.

Q6.Where was Margie’s school? Did she have any classmates?


Ans. Margie’s school was right next to her bedroom.
No, she did not have any classmates as she was home schooled.

Q7.What subjects did Margie and Tommy learn?


Ans. The subjects mentioned in the story are geography, history and arithmetic. It is unclear what other subjects they learnt.

II. Answer the following with reference to the story.

“I wouldn’t throw it away.”

i)Who says these words?


Ans. Tommy says these words to Margie.

ii) What does ‘it’ refer to?


Ans. ‘It’ refers to the television screen Tommy’s telebook’s are stored.

iii) What is it being compared with by the speaker?


Ans. The speaker is comparing it with a real book.

Sure they had a teacher, but it wasn’t a regular teacher. It was a man.”

i) Who does ‘they’ refer to?


Ans. ‘They’ refer to the kids who attended traditional school system centuries ago.

ii) What does ‘regular’ mean here?


Ans. ‘Regular’ here means the computerized mechanical teacher from which Margie and Tommy learnt their lessons.

iii) What is it contrasted with?


Ans. It is contrasted with the convenient, fast and error-free method of teaching done by the mechanical teachers as compared to the manual teaching learning done by human teachers.

III. Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 30 words).

Q1. What kind of teachers did Margie and Tommy have?

Ans. Margie and Tommy had mechanical teachers. Margie’s teacher has been described as large black and ugly with a big screen where the lessons were displayed. It had a slot where Margie had to put in her homework and tests using a punch code.

Q2. Why did Margie’s mother send for the county inspector?

Ans. The mechanical teacher had been giving Margie test after test in Geography which had been causing her performance to deteriorate. Concerned over this matter Margie’s mother called the county inspector.

Q3. What did he do?

Ans. The county inspector smiled at Margie and gave her an apple, and then he took the mechanical teacher apart in order to repair it. Within an hour he had put it back together and fixed the geography sector by gearing it to an average ten- year old level.

Q4. Why was Margie doing badly in Geography?

Ans. The mechanical teacher had been giving Margie test after test in geography due to which she was unable to keep up her performance. The county inspector helped her by slowing down the gear of the geography sector to an average ten – year old level.

Q5. What had once happened to Tommy’s teacher?

Ans. Tommy’s teacher had to be taken away for a month for repair, as the history sector of the mechanical teacher had completely blanked out.

Q6. Did Margie have regular days and hours of school? If so why?

Ans. Margie followed a regular routine for school with the mechanical teacher every-day, except Saturdays and Sundays.
Margie’s mother Mrs. Jones believed that little girls learnt best at regular hours. Therefore, Margie had a regular routine for school.

Q7. How does Tommy describe the old kind of school?

Ans. Tommy describes the old kind of school as a special building where kids of the same age went and studied together. He also mentions that the kids were taught by a human teacher who taught them lessons, asked them questions and gave homework.

Q8. How does he describe the old kind of teacher?

Ans. Tommy describes the old kind of teachers as smart humans who gave children homework, asked questions and taught many children of the same age in a class.

IV. Answer each of these questions in two or three paragraphs (100 –150 words).

Q1. What are the main features of the mechanical teachers and the schoolrooms that Margie and Tommy have in the story?

Ans. Margie and Tommy had mechanical teachers in the form of large black-screened computers on which various lessons were displayed. Margie’s teacher had a slot where she had to put in her homework and tests using punch code, which she had learnt when she was six. The teachers operated on the basis of sectors of different subjects. At times the mechanical teachers malfunctioned due to certain technical errors. Margie’s geography sector had to be geared to the average ten year old level; whereas, Tommy’s mechanical teacher had to be taken away for a month as the history sector had completely blanked out. The schoolrooms were situated in their homes. Margie’s classroom was right next to her bedroom.

Q2. Why did Margie hate school? Why did she think the old kind of school must have been fun?

Ans. Margie hated school as her mechanical teacher had been giving her test after test in geography and she had been performing poorly in the subject. Apart from her performance in the tests she had always hated it because she did not have any peers and found the classes monotonous.
She thought that the old kind of school must have been fun because all the children went to school together, and had fun learning the same thing together in the class. They could help each other out with the homework. They left for home together at the end of the day. All these things seemed exciting to Margie who had to learn from the boring mechanical teacher all by herself.

Q3. Do you agree with Margie that schools today are more fun than the school in the story? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans. Yes, I whole-heartedly agree that offline schools today are more fun than that of the story. Students indeed have a lot of fun going to school, interacting with friends and teachers and learning something different from each individual they interact with. The social and inter-personal skills that they learn go a long way in improving their personality and increasing their happiness index.
Unlike Margie students in traditional schools can have fun with their classmates. They can play with each other in the games period. Students learn a lot of co-curricular activities and have a glorious time during Annual Function, Sports Day and so on. All these activities make traditional schools a fun place to go to.

Thinking about Language

Adverbs

Read this sentence taken from the story:

They had once taken Tommy’s teacher away for nearly a month because the
history sector had blanked out completely.

The word complete is an adjective. When you add –ly to it, it becomes an adverb.

  1. Find the sentences in the lesson which have the adverbs given in the box
    below.

Awfully sorrowfully completely loftily
carefully differently quickly nonchalantly

Now use these adverbs to fill in the blanks in the sentences below.

(i) The report must be read carefully so that performance can be improved.
(ii) At the interview, Sameer answered our questions nonchalantly_______,
shrugging his shoulders.
(iii) We all behave differently____ when we are tired or hungry.
(iv) The teacher shook sorrowfully her head when Ravi lied to her.
(v) I completely_ forgot about it.
(vi) When I complimented Revathi on her success, she just smiled loftily_____
and turned away.
(vii) The President of the Company is awfully_____ busy and will not
be able to meet you.
(viii) I finished my work quickly___ so that I could go out to play.

Remember:
An adverb describes action. You can form adverbs by adding –ly to adjectives.
Spelling Note: When an adjective ends in –y, the y changes to i when you
add –ly to form an adverb.
For example: angr-y angr-i-ly

  1. Make adverbs from these adjectives.

(i) angry – angrily (ii) happy – happily
(iii) merry – merrily (iv) sleepy – sleepily
(v) easy – easily (vi) noisy – noisily
(vii) tidy – tidily (viii) gloomy – gloomily

II. If Not and Unless

• Imagine that Margie’s mother told her, “You’ll feel awful if you don’t finish your history lesson.”
• She could also say: “You’ll feel awful unless you finish your history lesson.”

Unless means if not. Sentences with unless or if not are negative conditional sentences.

Notice that these sentences have two parts. The part that begins with if not or unless tells us the condition. This part has a verb in the present tense (look at the verbs don’t finish, finish in the sentences above).

The other part of the sentence tells us about a possible result. It tells us what will happen (if something else doesn’t happen). The verb in this part of the sentence is in the future tense (you’ll feel/you will feel).

Notice these two tenses again in the following examples.
Future Tense Present Tense
• There won’t be any books left unless we preserve them.
• You won’t learn your lessons if you don’t study regularly.
• Tommy will have an accident unless he drives more slowly.

Complete the following conditional sentences. Use the correct form of the verb.

  1. If I don’t go to Anu’s party tonight, _he will be upset.
  2. If you don’t telephone the hotel to order food, __you will go hungry.
  3. Unless you promise to write back, I _shall not let you go.
  4. If she doesn’t play any games, _she will become physically weak.
  5. Unless that little bird flies away quickly, the cat will eat it.
Writing
A new revised volume of Isaac Asimov’s short stories has just been released.
Order one set. Write a letter to the publisher, Mindfame Private Limited, 1632
Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi, requesting that a set be sent to you by Value Payable
Post (VPP), and giving your address.

Your letter will have the following parts.

• Addresses of the sender and receiver
• The salutation
• The body of the letter
• The closing phrases and signature


Your letter might look like this:
Your address

Date (DD/MM/YY)

The addressee’s address

Dear Sir/Madam,

Yours sincerely,

Your signature


Remember that the language of a formal letter is different from the
colloquial style of personal letters. For example, contracted forms
such as ‘I’ve’ or ‘can’t’ are not used.

4/H Netaji Subhash Road
Chennai – 07


05 May, 2022

Mindfame, Private Limited, 1632
Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi


Subject: Letter for ordering the revised version of Issac Asimov’s short stories.


Madam,
This is to request you to send me a set of the revised version of Isaac Asimov’s short stories. Please send it by Value Payable Post (VPP) to the address mentioned below. Kindly send the set at the earliest.

Yours sincerely

T. Divya

4/H Netaji Subhash Road
Chennai – 07
Contact no. – xxxxxxxxxx

______________________________________

Speaking

In groups of four discuss the following topic.

‘The Schools of the Future Will Have No Books and No Teachers!’

Your group can decide to speak for or against the motion. After this, each group
will select a speaker to present its views to the entire class.

You may find the following phrases useful to present your argument in the debate.

• In my opinion . . .
• I/we fail to understand why . . .
• I wholeheartedly support/oppose the view that . . .
• At the outset let me say . . .
• I’d/we’d like to raise the issue of/argue against . . .
• I should like to draw attention to . . .
• My/our worthy opponent has submitted that . . .
• On the contrary . . .
• I firmly reject . . .

Points in favour of the motion:


The schools of the future will have no books and no teachers because . . .
computer and digital technologies are more efficient.
internet has become a boon for students.
a vast amount of knowledge is available on the internet.
electronic gadgets are replacing human tutors.
educational software is replacing teachers
guardians feel at easy as students do not have to venture out.
experienced and competent teachers are not always available.
Variety of courses is offered for free over the internet.
YouTube videos offer free lectures which can cost a lot.
Paperless education will provide relief for environment.

Points against the motion.


The schools of the future will have no books. As a result,
The bond between teacher and students will be lost in case of mechanical teachers.
values and ethics will degrade in the society as mechanical teachers lack the human touch.
materialism and commercialism will reduce quality of life.
absence of human sentiments will make life worthless.
Robots and machines will enslave us
personal relationships will be affected as students will only be guided by gadgets.
students will not learn to be disciplined due to lack of guidance.
social and interpersonal skills will not develop in students.
overall development of students will be affected due to lack of physical activities.
feelings of brotherhood and unity will not develop in citizens