“The Fun They Had,” Asimov, 1951 – Margie, who has never read anything except moving text on a screen interface, learns that Tommy has found a book in his attic. The book concerns the schools of the past, where humans, rather than robots, served as teachers. Margie doesn’t believe it; no human could be as smart as a teacher, but Tommy insists on the book’s veracity. He explains that, in the past, all children went to school at the same location and learned the same material–in contrast to today, where education is customized and decentralized. Now, mechanical teachers are tuned to the minds of their individual students, as it is now believed that each needs to be taught using different methods and at the individual child’s own pace. Both children agree that the book itself (as a medium) is a waste: Read a book once and throw it away, while their television contains “millions” of books. Later, Margie attends “class” in her room alone, save for her teacher-terminal. She sighs, thinking of the old-fashioned schools where kids came together and talked about their lessons. They must have loved it, she thinks, and she imagines “the fun they had.”
Comments: Read in Connoisseur’s SF, by Boardman. Digital storage of books and networked knowledge through the teacher terminals presages the Internet and a model of online education.
Author: Wikipedia: “Isaac Asimov…(January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was a Russian American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards…Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the ‘Big Three’ science fiction writers during his lifetime.”