THE FUN THEY HAD
The story takes the reader to the world of future where education will be totally different from what it is right now. It is shown that the time in the future is majorly dependent on computers and technology for everything.
The story revolves around two young children of age eleven and thirteen year old Margie and Tommy respectively. This story is written based on the education in the year 2157. Tommy one day finds an old book from his grandfather’s attic where stories of how school was at that time was written in it. Both Tommy and Margie finds the book very strange because they are exposed to a totally different method of schooling through a mechanical teacher.
They had schools at their own homes where a computerised teacher teaches them all the concepts and things. It is different from what we have right now (in the year 2020). The mechanical teacher was huge and had a big screen where all the lessons were taught, the questions were asked and the tests were taken. The mechanical teacher even had a slot where the child had to insert their homeworks and test papers which would be corrected by the mechanical teacher almost immediately. Maggie even had to learn punch code when she was six years old for her to do her homeworks and tests. Writing, like how we practice right now, was not a practise that they followed.
The mechanical teacher was set according to the child’s needs where it would take the lessons in the speed the child is comfortable learning. In case there arises any problem with the mechanical inspector, it could be taken to the County Inspector for any fixes or repairs. However Maggie only always wished that she did not have to attend school because she hated school.
The story beautifully compares the education system of the present times and the times in the year 2157 (the future times) where development in a lot of areas can be seen. These comparisons also help us to understand and form an opinion on the positives and negatives of both kind of education system.
The story speaks about the education system that we have right now as a strange practise in a lot of ways concerning the learning of a child, wastage of resources etc. The use of paper and a physical book to store information, the practise of a single teacher teaching the children different lessons and all children studying the same thing are some of the practices which appears to be a strange existence for Maggie and Tommy. This could also be valid to some extent because there could be some harm to the environment in terms of the resources that are used, which could be substituted by technology, which does not harm the environment much.
In contrast to that, the bonding and communication that children have in the current education system is majorly missing in the story because there will be not many children meeting in the real life if there is no particular place where all the students meet and socialise to create friendships and other bonds. There could also be a chance of less interaction with any other child of the same age.
The story also interestingly gives a beautiful picture of what our future can be if we continue to think more about our surrounding and the development of each child in their own pace.
Thinking about the Text
Activity: Calculate how many years and months ahead from now Margie’s diary entry is.
Answer: Margie’s diary entry is 136 years and 11 months ahead from now.
I. Answer these questions in a few words or a couple of sentences each.
1. How old are Margie and Tommy?
Ans: Margie is 11 years old and Tommy is 13 years old.
2. What did Margie write in her diary?
Ans: Margie wrote ‘Today Tommy found a real book’ in her diary.
3. Had Margie ever seen a book before?
Ans: Marie had never seen a book before.
4. What things about the book did she find strange?
Ans: Margie thought it was strange to see the words still in the pages and not moving like how she is used to seeing it on the screen. She also thought after reading the book, it was a waste and they had to throw it away, unlike the scenario in their times.
5. What do you think a telebook is?
Ans: A telebook is a book where contact numbers and addresses are stored in a systematic way.
6. Where was Margie’s school? Did she have any classmates?
Ans: Margie attended the mechanical school where a mechanical/computerised teacher would teach the subjects to her. No, she did not have any classmates.
7. What subjects did Margie and Tommy learn?
Ans: Margie and Tommy learnt Maths and Social Studies.
II. Answer the following with reference to the story.
1. “I wouldn’t throw it away.”
(i) Who says these words?
Ans: Tommy says these words.
(ii) What does ‘it’ refer to?
Ans: ‘It’ refers to the television which has millions of books to read from.
(iii) What is it being compared with by the speaker?
Ans: The speaker is comparing the television to the book that he found.
2. “Sure they had a teacher, but it wasn’t a regular teacher. It was a man.”
(i) Who does ‘they’ refer to?
Ans: ‘They’ refers to the people in the times of Tommy and Margie’s grandfather’s grandfather.
(ii) What does ‘regular’ mean here?
Ans: Here Tommy refers ‘regular’ to the normal that they experience, which is the mechanical teacher.
(iii) What is it contrasted with?
Ans: The regular teacher was compared to the teacher they have, which is the mechanical/computerised teacher.
III. Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 30 words).
1. What kind of teachers did Margie and Tommy have?
Ans: Margie and Tommy had mechanical/computerised teacher. It was large and black; and had a big screen on which all the lessons and questions were asked. The mechanical teacher had a slot where they had to put their homework and test papers. These papers were supposed to be written in punch code. The teacher calculates the marks almost immediately.
2. Why did Margie’s mother send for the County Inspector?
Ans: Margie’s mechanical teacher had been giving her test after test in Geography due to which Margie’s score was getting worse and worse. To adjust the speed of the lessons and test by the mechanical teacher, her mother sent for the County Inspector.
3. What did he do?
Ans: The County Inspector was open for helping and took the teacher away from Margie. After examining the problem, he slowed down the Geography sector in the mechanical teacher to suit the needs of an average ten-year old child.
4. Why was Margie doing badly in geography? What did the County Inspector do to help her?
Ans: The mechanical teacher was giving Margie test after test. The speed of giving the tests was too fast for Margie to cope up, so she was doing badly in geography. The County Inspector slowed down the geography section of the mechanical teacher to suit the needs of an average ten-year old child.
5. What had once happened to Tommy’s teacher?
Ans: Tommy’s teacher was once taken away by the County Inspector for nearly a month as the history sector in his mechanical teacher had completely blanked out.
6. Did Margie have regular days and hours for school? If so, why?
Ans: Yes, Margie had school at the same time every day except Saturday and Sunday. This is because her mother said little girls learned better if they learned in regular hours.
7. How does Tommy describe the old kind of school?
Ans: Tommy describes the old kind of school as an irregular kind of school where the students had a teacher and it was a man, who gave them homework and asked questions; and all the children went to a special building to learn.
8. How does he describe the old kind of teachers?
Ans: Tommy describes the old kind of teachers as people who used to tell the girls and boys things and gave homework and asked them questions. The teacher used to not go to the children’s house but he used to teach in a special building where all the children came to learn.
IV. Answer each of these questions in two or three paragraphs (100 –150 words).
1. 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 as a part of their school. It was large and black. It had a big screen on which all the lessons were shown and questions were asked. It had a slot where they had to put their homework and test papers. They always had to write them in a punch code which was taught to them from the age of six-years old. The mechanical teacher calculated the marks almost immediately after putting the papers in the slot.
The schoolrooms were the place where Margie’s and Tommy’s mechanical teachers were kept. It was right next to their bedrooms. They could learn different subjects through the mechanical teacher and also read as many books as they desired by reading them out from the screen that popped the text for them. They attended school regularly at the same time every day except Saturday and Sunday.
2. Why did Margie hate school? Why did she think the old kind of school must have been fun?
Ans: Margie hated school for various reasons. The mechanical teacher used to give Margie homeworks and tests continuously to check the understanding of Margie. However, she did not like taking tests. It can also be told from the story that she did not enjoy the process of how the mechanical teacher teaches the subjects monotonously while she sat there listening to it.
Margie thought that the old kind of school must have been more fun because all the children from the neighbourhood came, laughing and shouting in the school yard, sitting together in the schoolroom and going home together at the end of the day. Learning the same thing could also be helpful for one another and to talk about it and do their homeworks together.
3. Do you agree with Margie that schools today are more fun than the school in the story? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans: In any situation there can be a positive and a negative side to it. Based on the story it seems fun for us right now to have school in that manner with a mechanical teacher because it will be better for every child to learn at their own speed, in their own houses and at the time of their convenience. The effect of such classrooms could also have a great impact on the environment in saving from wasting paper and resources like that unnecessarily.
On the other hand, the negative side of having school in that way also means that there will not be much connections with other children of our age. This can reduce the friendships we have, the communications we have and also the fun we get to have when we are not studying in school, during our break/free time.
Thinking about Language
1. Find the sentences in the lesson which have the adverbs given in the box below.
awfully: 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.
sorrowfully: 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.
completely: They had once taken Tommy’s teacher away for nearly a month because the history sector had blanked out completely.
loftily: He added loftily, pronouncing the word carefully, “Centuries ago.”
carefully : He added loftily, pronouncing the word carefully, “Centuries ago.”
differently : “But my mother says a teacher has to be adjusted to fit the mind of each boy and girl it teaches and that each kid has to be taught differently.”
quickly : “I didn’t say I didn’t like it,” Margie said quickly.
nonchalantly: “May be,” he said nonchalantly.
2. 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 her head sorrowfully 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 completely busy and will not be able to meet you.
(viii) I finished my work quickly so that I could go out to play.
3. 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
Complete the following conditional sentences. Use the correct form of the verb.
1. If I don’t go to Anu’s party tonight, she won’t talk to me.
2. If you don’t telephone the hotel to order food, we won’t be able to eat.
3. Unless you promise to write back, I will write letters to you when you are gone.
4. If she doesn’t play any games, she will become a lazy girl.
5. Unless that little bird flies away quickly, the cat will jump and catch it from the branch.
A new revised volume of Issac 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
202B, Santushti Apartments,
12th July, 2020
Mindfame Private Limited
1632 Asaf Ali Road,
Subject: Request to send the revised version of short stories set
I, Shalini. G, write this letter to you with regards to the revised volume of Issac Asimov’s short stories. I have been very keen on his writings and would like to read this edition too. On this regard, I would please request you to send me a set of the short stories. I would be great if you could send it by Value Payable Post to the address mentioned earlier.
Please oblige and do the needful.
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
The poem ‘The Road not Taken’ is written by Robert Frost, an American poet. He writes in simple words which has heavy meanings about some of the most common experiences we feel in our daily lives and how our choices makes us who we are as a person.
The poem is woven in the sense that a traveller is in a forest during Autumn season and has two paths to choose between to move forward. In the beginning one path looked more chosen than the other one based on some seen evidences. So the traveller chooses the path that is not much chosen by people.
In half of the poem he tells the readers that both the paths are almost similar to each other, covered by the dried yellow leaves of Autumn and also the curves in the pathway. However as and when the traveller is exploring the less travelled path, he finds out that it is more interesting to take the leap of the unknown sometimes just so that the path forward can be explored by ourselves rather than depending upon the path that is already explored by most of the other people.
Eventually by the end of the poem, the traveller speaks about how he chose the path that is less chosen by people and that it made a huge difference in the way he sees things and explores the different parts of the path. A significant phrase ‘way leads on to way’ signifies that as and when we move forwards, even in an unknown path, we explore more and more in that pathway rather than simply accepting a path that has already been explored in the past.
This poem is written in an obvious manner on how people, in their day-to-day living tend to simply accept what others have been following so far and that there is a lack of exploring a different path to create a difference in the society. This could be on even the smallest decisions or on life-changing decisions; whatever they are, the impact of the decision also shows the kind of person we are in terms of living our life.
Thinking about the Poem
1. Where does the traveller find himself? What problem does he face?
Ans: The traveller finds himself in a forest during Autumn season. He has a decision to make about which path to choose among the two paths that are in front of him. He compares the two paths by its physical appearance in the beginning and then makes his choice.
2. Discuss what these phrases mean to you.
- a yellow wood- Wood, here, indicates that it is a forest. The adjective ‘yellow’ here for the wood indicates that the poet speaks about the time during Autumn season when the colour of the leaves change.
- it was grassy and wanted wear- ‘Wanted wear’ in this context means that it was not been used very much. Being ‘grassy’ also signifies the same meaning which is that it is not walked upon many times, because of which the growth of grass in the path is still in large quantity and signifies that it is not stepped on many times.
- the passing there- This phrase means that looking back at both the paths, it can be seen that both are almost equally not taken by the travellers.
- leaves no step had trodden black- This phrase beautifully signifies the change in the nature of the leaves. When it is stepped on many times, the yellow colour of the leaves fade to become a darker colour such as black.
- how way leads on to way- When the less travelled path is explored, one can find out that the path ahead is somewhat yet to be discovered. This would not be difficult because one path leads to the other and the final destination can be arrived at in that manner.
3. Is there any difference between the two roads as the poet describes them
- in stanzas two and three?
Ans: In the beginning of stanza two, the poet signifies that there is a difference between the two paths because the second path has more grass which is not stepped on and means that it is not chosen by the travellers very often. However, from the third line of stanza two, the poet tells the readers that both the paths are almost similar to each other because both of them have the yellow leaves fallen onto them because of the Autumn season; and thus both the routes are not travelled much anyways. This doubt of choosing the path also leads the poet to tell that even though he chose the second path, he would not come back to the first one again, because new paths will be discovered by old paths in the route that is less travelled. This is how one can reach a destination by exploring.
- in the last two lines of the poem?
Ans: In the last two lines of the poem the poet clearly signifies that there has been a huge difference in both the paths. Choosing the one that has been less selected by the travellers has created a major difference in the destination that the traveller has reached. Making this choice of going in the path that is less chosen the poet also tells us that the discoveries made on the way are totally different and are worthwhile for a person.
4. What do you think the last two lines of the poem mean? (Looking back, does the poet regret his choice or accept it?)
Ans: The last two lines of the poem says ‘I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’. These lines hold a lot of meaning that the poet tells and also what has been happening in the general society and its choices. According to the general human nature, people tend to choose what has been already chosen by others so that they are already aware of what lies ahead of them so that the risk taken by themselves can be reduced to the maximum level.
However, the poet through these lines signifies that when the path which has not been considered very much by people is taken, there lies ahead a vast field of opportunities for the person which may help them to find out more about themselves, their strengths, and weaknesses and lot more. When the path that is less opted for is chosen by the people it gives them a different sense of confidence to deal with situations or the problems that they face from a different point of view.
Hence the poet accept that having chosen the path that is not often chosen by people, he made the right choice because that created a huge difference in his own experience in exploring the ways of the forest in the Autumn season.