Q.1. How did a chance discovery of a paper book leave Margie and Tommy awestruck?
Ans. Margie (9) and Tommy (13) are neighborhood friends in the year 2157. It is an age of total automation, mechanization, digitalization and computerization. Children do not go to a school building and they are not taught by a human teacher. Instead, their teacher is a telling teacher, a computer like a machine that has millions of books. It can be customized according to the age and learning needs and abilities of individual students. Reading is done on a screen that displays movable text. So, one day when Tommy finds an old, dusty paper book in the attic of his house, he shares the exciting news with his friend Margie and together they are awestruck, for they had hitherto never seen or heard about a book that had no screen but only fixed text on pages that had to be flipped with fingers. As the duo kept reading the book further and further, their excitement kept growing. They were awestruck to discover that ancient schools were huge buildings where hundreds of children studied together with the same syllabus, the same subjects and carried out the same activities and tasks. They were taught by real human teachers with the help of real books. Margie believes that students those days must have had a lot of fun studying together.
Q.2. What are the main features of the mechanical teachers and the schoolrooms that Margie and Tommy have in the story?
Ans. Tommy and Margie are young schools going children in the year 2157. Schools and teachers have an entirely different form from the ones in the twentieth century. Margie and Tommy’s school is not in a separate special building but in a room in their respective houses where the television or the mechanical teacher is placed. Each student has to sit and study alone with the help of the mechanical teacher. The ‘teacher’ assigns tests to the students and assesses their progress. The speed of the different subject sectors is fixed according to the age level of each student. There is a special slot in the tele-teacher where students have to insert their homework. If the mechanical teacher develops any fault, there are engineers to repair it. Sometimes the fault may be a major one and it takes longer to repair it, as was the case when Tommy’s history teacher developed a snag.
Thus, the mechanical teachers and schoolrooms of Tommy and Margie are fully computerized and are completely different from the present-day schools.
Q.3. Why did Margie hate school? Why did she think the old kind of school must have been fun?
Ans. Margie hated school because it did not have any fun. Her schedule was too regimented and she had to study at a fixed time on all days of the week except Saturdays and Sundays. She did not have any classmates to study with and seek help from. Her mechanical teacher sometimes developed a snag and assigned the tests that were quite difficult for her. Constant failure to perform well in such tests was disappointing for her. There were times when she wanted a break, but the technical advancement of 2157 did not give her a chance. The County Inspector took just a little while to set right the Geography sector of her teacher.
She thought that the old kind of school must have been fun because unlike her school, the ancient schools were in special buildings where the students from the whole neighborhood came laughing and playing. Students of the same level would be in the same room and were taught by human teachers. The students would sit together in the schoolroom, go home together, learn the same things, help one another with the homework and talk about it. Hence, schools in olden days did not restrain their students but gave them a chance to grow up together.
Q.4. Do you agree with Margie that schools today are more fun than the school in the story? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans. Margie’s school, as described in the story, seems to be a boring place where learning is a mere task. In comparison, schools today are more fun. Students get a chance to come out of their homes and travel to reach school. On their way, they laugh, play and have so much fun. The schoolyard too is a great open place where students get a chance to interact informally with each other. They get an opportunity to share their experiences and help each other. Their learning schedule is also flexible and gives them enough time to have fun. They have so many extra-curricular activities which teach a lot of skills in a fun-filled way. Their teacher is a real person who makes them sit together and teaches them the same topic. In this way, they learn to adjust and adapt which helps them develop the values of tolerance and cooperation. Hence, Margie’s view that schools today are more fun than her school is totally justified.
Q.5. Suppose you are Margie. Write a diary entry dated 17th May 2157 about Tommy’s real book that he found in his attic.
17th May 2157
It has been a wonderful day for me as I have seen a real, hard-bound printed paper book. In fact, Tommy found the book in the attic of his house when he was cleaning the cupboard of his grandfather. It consists of about 200 pages which have become yellow and crinkly with time. It is a strange experience to read the words fixed on its papers unlike the ones in my telebooks that keep moving as I scroll.
When I turn the page, I find the same words again. The book is about a school from olden times, about two centuries ago. Can you believe that in those times a school was not a room in one’s own house but a special building dedicated to the purpose of teaching and learning! The students of the same level studied the same things sitting together in the same classroom. It is really wonderful to think that the teachers were men and not machines. I really believe that it must have been great fun for children to go to such schools together, laughing, joking, playing, and teasing each other. How wonderful it must have been that the students helped each other with lessons as well! I wish I could travel back in time and study in one of those schools.
Q.6. Why did Margie hate school? Why did she think the old kind of school must have been fun?
Ans. Margie hated school because she had a mechanical teacher. It was at her house. She was supposed to sit in that room alone to complete her homework or assignments. The part Margie hated the most was the slot where she had to put homework and test papers. She thought that the old schools must have been fun because the students used to sit together in the classroom. They enjoyed, laughed and shouted in the schoolyard, going home together at the end of the day. They learned the same things so that they could help one another with homework and talk about it. All the teachers were people. Children needed a company to enhance their skills. If they are isolated, they get depressed and dejected.
Q.7. The old schools are considered fun by the modern generation. Explain.
Ans. The ancient schools consisted of Gurukuls in which the students stayed in the building with the guru. Then with the change of time Gurukuls changed into schools. Hence the teacher and the student have a formal relationship. In these schools, teachers are human beings and books are real ones made of paper. Now with times, the modern generation’s school replaced by e-text and computers. The future generation would envy when they come to know about the old system of education in which all the kids went to school together. They studied together, played together. They could have better innovative minds as they got a chance to discuss things with each other. The old system of education in which ‘man’ as a teacher could influence his students by the charisma of his personality. Future generation would utter what fun the schools were long ago.
Q.8. Do you agree with Margie that schools today are more fun than the school in the story? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans. There is no doubt that today’s schools have more fun than the school discussed in the story. This school has nothing but a mechanical teacher with no emotions and sentiments. It does not have the ability to understand the psychology of a child. Moreover, it guides a pupil according to its adjusted modes. But today’s schools work for the overall development of a child. They are given training in leadership, sports, politics and science. They learn how to adapt themselves to the new surroundings and cope with strangers. The students sit and learn together forgetting their caste, colour and creed. These activities don’t give vent to the feelings of depression, alienation and segregation.
Q.9. Will the existing schools and teachers become totally irrelevant in future ‘school’? Give a reasoned answer.
Ans. Naturally, schools that existed centuries ago will not be the same in the coming centuries. The system of education will be highly computerized and mechanical. The ‘school’ will have no separate building. Nor will they be taught the same thing together. The mechanical teacher will be a big TV screen, good for a million books. The mechanical teacher will be adjusted according to the age and capacity of the student. But it will be an exaggeration to say that everything about the old schools will disappear. Even the future schools can’t be completely devoid of the human angle. Perhaps the institution of the old schools and teachers will remain. Human involvement can’t disappear altogether.
Q.10. Describe the characteristics of old schools. How did they arouse so much interest in Margie and Tommy?
Ans. The good old students reflected the charm and romance of their times. Every school had its own buildings. Students from different parts of the town went there for studies. All the students in a class were taught the same things. They received the same kinds of homework. Hence, students could help one another. The teachers were real human beings. The books were printed on paper.
There was an air of romance about the old schools. Margie’s interest was around about them. She got the relevant information about them from Tommy. In comparison to her mechanical teacher and her ‘school’, the old schools charmed Margie. She was fascinated by the way children went to their schools. They studied together. They were taught the same things. It was easier for them to help one another. Margie was rather envious of the fun the children had in old schools.
Q.11. Can you imagine a school without teachers and books? Give your opinion on the basis of the lesson ‘The Fun They Had’.
Ans. No one can deny the role of modern technologies in our lives and in our studies. Nowadays education is changing but schools without teachers and without books are beyond imagination. Without teachers, teaching would not be good because no one would be there to explain and to teach as well. No student would like the environment, it would be like an office. Teachers are very important for education. Teachers not only teach us different subjects but they also teach us to live in discipline and to live together. Teachers resolve the student’s problem and doubt and if they aren’t in schools the students don’t study enough. As in the lesson Margie does not like her school, she finds it tedious as she does not have the opportunity to be with other students and to do every work together. Modern technologies can be taken as an aid to improve the standard of studies but the schools without books and teachers will never be preferred.
Q.12. What is the role of a teacher in the life of a student? How is a human teacher better than a mechanical teacher?
Ans. Teachers play a very important role in the life of a student. They not only provide bookish knowledge but also inspire their students to live a meaningful and successful life. They burn themselves like a candle throughout their lives to remove the darkness and ignorance from their student’s life. This can be done by a human teacher only. A mechanical teacher can provide ample knowledge on various subjects but he/she can not boost up their students to do something distinguished. There is a single mechanical teacher having various sectors geared up according to the level of the child. There is no companion, no playground and no fun at all. The teaching is mechanical and monotonous. Thus the human teachers are better than the mechanical teachers in many ways. They know individually intellect of their students which helps them to guide them individually according to the mental level of students.