No More Books, No More Schools…Predicted in 1951 by Isaac Asimov

Everyone working in ed tech should read the brilliant short story by Isaac Asimov titled “The Fun They Had.” Here are some excerpts:

On the page headed May 17, 2157, Margie 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. 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 had when they read it the first time.

And then:

“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.”

“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 questions.” “A man isn’t smart enough.” “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.” [In their future, the teacher is a computer.]

And later:

She was thinking about the old schools they had when her grandfather’s grandfather was a little boy. All the kids from the whole neighborhood came, laughing and shouting in the schoolyard, sitting together in the schoolroom, going home together at the end of the day. They learned the same things, so they could help one another on the homework and talk about it.

And the teachers were people…

Margie was thinking about how the kids must have loved it in the old days. She was thinking about the fun they had.

As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. A cautionary tale for futurists everywhere.




One thought on “No More Books, No More Schools…Predicted in 1951 by Isaac Asimov

  1. Keep the teachers, just add ed tech as a supplement to the classroom, for instance as a break from the classroom, where students can fill in gaps (missed, remedial, cognitive), follow interests that fascinate them while learning, or work ahead of the class.

    Jane Healy also commented on the problems of too much technology without teachers in education, such as an extreme example of letting children rerun drills over and over, which actually causes their scores on the drills to go down as they get bored. This is about one of her books, “Failure to Connect”
    “Few parents and educators stop to consider that computers, used incorrectly, may do far more harm than good to a child’s growing brain and social/emotional development…. Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., author of the groundbreaking bestseller Endangered Minds, examines the advantages and drawbacks of computer use for kids at home and school…”

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