Margie is the main character of the story around \(11\) years of age. She writes a diary on the night of \(17th\) May \(2157\). Now, we are living in \(2020\). The story is set in the future in the year \(2157\), almost one and a half-century that is \(137\) years from now. At that time, Margie writes a diary, and she writes that ‘Tommy found a real book’, and she is feeling so odd because, in her times, real books do not exist. They only have e-books, the virtual books. So, books in the format of print on paper have vanished, and so, Margie is amazed to see a real book.
Margie remembers her grandfather. He told her that his grandfather studied all the books that were printed on paper. So, this kind of book is historical or ancient for them. Something which they cannot believe they can’t imagine.
Margie is talking about the book that Tommy had found. She says that the pages of the book had turned yellow, and they had been crushed as it was very old. The children found it very funny to read the words which stood still. (Now what does it mean by that words that stood still? As the words were printed on the pages, they did not move). On the other hand, the books that Margie and Tommy read were online (e-books). So, in the e-books how it happens, the text keeps on moving as your screen moves, but it was different in the books printed on paper. It was a very strange experience for these children. When you have a book, which is printed on paper, whenever you flip the pages, you get to see the same thing written on the pages, on the other hand, in an e-book, the text keeps on changing on the screen. The screen is the same, but the text keeps on changing. So, whenever you go back, the text is different.
Tommy did not like the printed book. He said that it was a waste because he thought that whenever you complete reading a book, you have to throw it away. You cannot have a variety of stories written in the same book. He thought that the Computer screen was very good because the same screen shows him many books and still he could read many more like millions on it. He need not have to throw that screen away once he had read a particular story.
Margie also consented with Tommy's opinion. Margie was \(11\) years old, and she has not read many books unlike Tommy had because Tommy was older to Margie, he was \(13\) years old.
Where had he found the book with the print, Margie asked Tommy.
Tommy said that he found the printed book on the roof of his house. He was so busy reading the book that he did not even bother to look from the book. Margie asked what the book was about?
Tommy said that the book was completely about the school.
Margie disliked the word ‘school’. She said that what was there to write about it and an entire book had been written about school.
Margie’s school was a virtual classroom in a machine. It was not a real school like we have today. So, in the future, we think that the schools will be virtual classrooms. There will be machines that will be teaching the children. Margie did not like this machine because it was giving her many tests in geography, which was quite difficult for her, and she was doing very badly. Finally, her mother thought that there was something wrong with the machine so, she had called the County Inspector to check it. (A county inspector is maybe a person of that period who checks and repairs the mechanical teachers that the children of that time have.)
Here they are giving the details of the County Inspector who came to check the mechanical teacher. He looks like a round little man with a red face. He was carrying a big box full of tools with dials and wires. This man took the machine to repair it. Margie desired that he should not be able to repair the computer. She did not like to study from the mechanical teacher, but the man was a skill full, and within an hour, he had repaired the computer and made it ready to teach Margie once again. Margie narrates the computer to be huge, black in colour and unpleasant. It has a screen, and all the lessons appear on the screen, and many questions are asked. Margie hated this mechanical teacher the most because she had to submit her homework and test papers to it. Margie had to write her homework, and test papers in a particular punch code which is a computing language. She had learned it when she was \(6\) yrs old. The machine used to check the papers and calculate her marks so soon.
The County inspector patted Margie’s head and said to her mother that she was not securing good marks in Geography because the machine was not working properly. It was made to a higher grade. He said that sometimes machines did not function properly. He had slowed it down and set is to the pace of ten-years of age. He said that Margie was learning well. He again patted Margie’s head to encourage her.
Margie was not happy because she did not want to study from the machine. She hoped that the Inspector would take the computer with him. Margie is reminded of the time when Tommy’s Mechanical teacher had been taken away for repair for almost one month, and he was enjoying his time as he didn’t have any teacher. It had been taken away because a portion of the History subject had been wiped out. So, the mechanical teacher did not have any memory of it and had to be taken away for repair.
Now we know the reason for Margie’s dislike for school. So, she asked Tommy why would anyone write about school.
Tommy was looking at Margie with proud eyes because he knew something that Margie did not know. He said that Margie didn't have common sense because she did not know that years ago, the school was not the kind they had. Tommy wanted to put pressure on the time and said that hundreds of years ago, the school was not like the ones they had.
Margie was uncomfortable at Tommy’s conduct, and she said that she did not know what kind of schools they had centuries ago. She looked over Tommy’s shoulder, trying to read the book and said that whatever they had a teacher. Here, Tommy is mentioning to a machine teacher as a regular teacher because that is what they are used to.
Tommy said that it wasn’t the machine; it was a man (human being) who taught them.
Margie could not believe that a man could be a teacher because she had always seen a machine.
Tommy Tells that the man who taught the class talked many things with the students, gave them homework, and then asked them different questions like their mechanical teacher.
Margie said that a man teacher is not as clever as the machine teacher. Tommy tells Margie not to estimate the human teacher as too low.
Margie did not want to argue about it and said that she did not want an unfamiliar man, the human to come home to teach her. Tommy felt it was a joke whatever Margie said.
He said that teachers didn’t go to the students’ house to teach them instead they had a special building; a school and the children went to the school.
Margie was surprised and asked that did all the children learn the same thing.
Tommy said yes, all the children studied the same thing if they were of the same age.
Margie tells about the machine teacher. Margie mother said that the machine had to modulate to the level of individual boy or girl study form it. Each child had to be taught separately depending on their ability.
Tommy responded that in the past, they did not do it that way. He got annoyed at Margie and said that she need not read the book anymore.
Margie was curious about the book. She liked to know more about those schools. She thought that they were fun. Margie and Tommy didn't read even read half of the book when her mother called her as it was time for her to take part in her virtual school. Margie’s school was in the next room.
She did not want to go to that school yet.
Margie’s mother said to Tommy that it was time for him to go to school as well.
Margie was so immersed in reading the book that she requested if Tommy could read the book with her after the school gets over.
Tommy tried not to pay attention to her and said that perhaps she could read it. Tommy was feeling very proud because Margie was interested in reading the book. He placed the book under his arm, and he went off to his home.
Margie went to her school. It was the next room, a virtual classroom. There was a machine teacher for Margie. It was on, and it was waiting for her to begin teaching her. Margie uses to study all the weekdays except Saturdays and Sundays. Margie’s mother was very concerned about this as she felt Margie would learn better if she would study every day at the same time.
Margie sat in front of the machine. It said that the lesson for the day was in Arithmetic and the topic was the addition of proper fractions. It also instructed her to insert the homework of the previous day in the proper slot.
Margie’s exhaled heavily as her life was mechanical, just like a machine. There is no fun in her classroom. Margie is thinking of the story said to her by her grandfather. Her grandfather told her that his grandfather used to go to school when he was a little boy. She remembered that life. When Margie comes to know that in the past, children used to go to school, they sat together, enjoyed in the school, she gets curious about it and wants to go to school. Margie feels that in school, they get the same homework, and they can discuss it, take help as well. So, all the students become friends and study in a fun way.
She found it very strange that the teachers were human beings who can understand their emotions as well.
As Margie had inserted her homework, the machine started with the lesson.
The author ends the story with the title of the chapter ‘The Fun They Had’. (The fun the students had when they went to real schools). Margie is just pondering about the kids of the past who went to school and enjoyed studies.