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The Fun They Had by Issac Asimov

by Maredda Cross

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The Fun They Had
By Issac Asimov
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About the author
 Issac Asimov is known as “the father of science fiction” for his many contributions to the genre. You may be familiar with some of his work! He wrote “I, Robot” which was converted to a major motion picture starring Will Smith in 2004.
During his lifetime, Asimov studied at Columbia University and was a biochemistry professor at Boston University. He was passionate about science, technology, and literature. He penned many short stories including the Foundation series which was the inspiration behind the Star Wars & Star Trek series. This short story story, The Fun They Had, was written in 1951. Asimov died in Brooklyn in 1992.
1 Margie even wrote about it that night in her diary. On the page headed May 17, 2155, she wrote, “Today Tommy found a real book!” It was a very old book. Margie's grandfather once said that when he was a little boy his grandfather told him that there was a time when all stories were printed on paper.
5 They turned the pages, which were yellow and crinkly, and it was awfully funny to read words that stood still instead of moving the way they were supposed to-on a screen, you know. And then, when they turned back to the page before, it had the same words on it that it had when they read it the first time.
Why do you think Margie wrote about the old book in her diary?
Thought Bubble
11 “Gee,” said Tommy, “what a waste. When you're through with the book, you just throw it away, I guess. Our television screen must have had a million books on it and it's good for plenty more. I wouldn't throw it away.”
“Same with mine,” said Margie. She was eleven and hadn't seen as many telebooks as Tommy had. He was thirteen. She said, “Where did you find it?”
19 “In my house.” He pointed without looking, because he was busy reading.
“In the attic.” “What's it about?”
“School.” Margie was scornful.
23 “School? What's there to write about school? I hate school.”
25 Margie always hated school, but now she hated it-more than ever. The mechanical teacher had been giving her test after test in geography and she had been doing worse and worse until her mother had shaken her head sorrowfully and sent for the County Inspector.
30 He was a round little man with a red face and a whole box of tools with dials and wires. He smiled at her and gave her an apple, then took the teacher apart.
Underline all the adjectives you find and list them here. How do they bring the story to life?
33 Margie had hoped he wouldn't know how to put it together again, but he knew how all right and, after an hour or so, there it was again, large and black and ugly with a big screen on which all the lessons were shown and the questions were asked. That wasn't so bad.
38 The part she hated most was the slot where she had to put homework and test papers. She always had to write them out in a punch code they made her learn when she was six years old, and the mechanical teacher calculated the mark in no time.
43 The inspector had smiled after he was finished and patted her head. He said to her mother, “It's not the little girl's fault, Mrs. Jones. I think the geography sector was geared a little too quick. Those things happen sometimes. I've slowed it up to an average ten-year level. Actually, the over-all pattern of her progress is quite satisfactory.” And he patted Margie's head again.
50 Margie was disappointed. She had been hoping they would take the teacher away altogether. They had once taken Tommy's teacher away for nearly a month because the history sector had blanked out completely.
Make a text to self connection. Do you like learning online? Why or why not?
54 So she said to Tommy, “Why would anyone write about school?” Tommy looked at her with very superior eyes.
57 “Because it's not our kind of school, stupid. This is the old kind of school that they had hundreds and hundreds of years ago.” He added loftily, pronouncing the word carefully, “Centuries ago.”
61 Margie was hurt. “Well, I don't know what kind of school they had all that time ago.”
She read the book over his shoulder for a while, then said, “Anyway, they had a teacher.”
65 “Sure they had a teacher, but it wasn't a regular teacher. It was a man.”
“A man? How could a man be a teacher?”
Well, he just told the boys and girls things and gave them homework and asked them 50 questions.”
“A man isn't smart enough.”
70 “Sure he is. My father knows as much as my teacher.” “He can't. A man can't know as much as a teacher.”
“He knows almost as much I betcha.”
73 Margie wasn't prepared to dispute that. She said, “I wouldn't want a strange man in my house to teach me.” Tommy screamed with laughter, “You don't know much, Margie. The teachers didn't live in the house. They had a special building and all the kids went there.”
“And all the kids learned the same thing?”
79 “Sure, if they were the same age.”
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