Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov - Summary, Theme Q&A Class IX - Beehive - Chapter 1

About the Author

Isaac Asimov was born on January 2, 1920, in Russia. His family moved to the United States when he was a toddler. His family owned a series of Candy shops and called upon him to work in the store as a youngster.
In 1949, Asimov began a stint at Boston University School of Medicine, where he was hired as an associate professor of biochemistry in 1955. He eventually became a professor at this university by the late 1970s.
Asimov was a prolific and varied writer. Apart from science fiction, he was also known for writing books on astronomy, biology, mathematics, religion and literary biography. Over the course of his career, he won several Hugo and Nebula Awards. He also received several accolades from science institutions

The theme of the Story 'The Fun They Had'

The story's theme centres on futuristic schools, where mechanical teachers will replace human teachers, and books will become obsolete. Instead, students will solely rely on e-books for learning, and online exams will be the norm. The internet will significantly impact education, making subjects such as history and geography easier for students to comprehend. Printed books will only be available in the library, making the school vastly different from traditional and current schools.

Short Summary of 'The Fun They Had'

Introduction: This story deals with a boy and a girl, Tommy and Margie. They find out something about the school of the past. On 17th May 2157, Tommy, a thirteen-year-old boy, finds a 'real book' in the attic printed on paper. Tommy and Margie both take a look at it.

The Real Book: The book is old and has yellow and crinkly pages. In the year 2157, this kind of book will not exist any more. At that time, words will move on a TV screen. These TVs can contain over a million books. That is why Tommy thinks that they are much better than the old schools.

Margie's hatred for school: He says that the book is about school. But Margie hates school and she does not understand why someone would write about it. She is having problems with learning geography from her 'mechanical teacher'. It is black, large and has a screen on it. It teaches the students, gives them exercises and asks them questions. It works from in a special room in her own house. It can also calculate the marks in no time. Margie hates the slot where she has to insert her homework and the test papers. Once, the geography sector of the mechanical teacher was too quick, so she got worse marks than before. The County Inspector rebuilt it after one hour. He was nice to Margie. She hoped that her mechanical teacher would be taken away longer, like Tommy's. His history sector blanked out completely.

Tommy's opinion about the book: Tommy says that the book he has found is not about their type of school. Actually, it is about the school of centuries ago. He finds that students in the past had a real man as a teacher who taught boys and girls. He gave them homework and asked them questions. They had a special building, and all children went to school. All of them learned the same thing.

Margie's opinion about the old school: First, Margie could not understand how a real man could be a teacher nor could she understand how every student was taught the same thing. Her mother says that education must fit each child's mind. But in her opinion, those schools were funny, and she wants to read more about them. Now it is time for Margie and Tommy for their school. Margie goes into the schoolroom in her house, where the mechanical teacher stands. It is already waiting because the lessons are always at regular hours. She thinks about the old schools and the fun the students had in them.

Main Points of the Story

  1. Tommy finds a 'real book' from an attic that has been printed on paper.
  2. According to Margie's grandfather's grandfather, all old books were printed on paper.
  3. Tommy thinks it is a waste to have a book printed on paper.
  4. Tommy thinks TV screens are better.
  5. Margie hates school and does not understand why someone would write about school.
  6. Margie has problems learning geography from her mechanical teacher, so it is rebuilt by the County Inspector.
  7. Margie hates doing her homework. 
  8. The County Inspector says that Margie's progress is 'Satisfactory'.
  9. Margie asks Tommy why anybody would write about a school. Tommy replies that it existed 'centuries ago'.
  10. Margie is surprised to know that back in the older days, a 'ream man' used to be the teacher. 
  11. Tommy says that teachers did not live in the house, and the kids went to a 'special building' to learn.
  12. Mrs. Jones believes each teacher must fit each child's mind.
  13. Mrs Jones tells them that it is time to go to school.
  14. The 'schoolroom' is next to Margie's bedroom.
  15. The mechanical teacher asks for Margie's homework.
  16. Margie thinks about a time when teachers were people, and students had real fun in those schools.

Thinking About the Text

I. Answer these questions in a few words or a couple of sentences each.

Q1. How old are Margie and Tommy?

AnswerMargie is eleven years old, and Tommy is thirteen.

Q2. What did Margie write in her diary?

AnswerOn the page headed 17 May 2157, Margie wrote,"Today Tommy found a real book!"

Q3. Had Margie ever seen a book before?

AnswerNo, Margie had never seen a real book before.

Q4. What things about the book did she find strange?

Answer:Margie found out that the words on the book weren't moving the way they are supposed to on a screen instead they stood still. And when she turned back to the page before, it had the same words on it that it had had when she read it the first time.

Q5. What do you think a telebook is?

AnswerA telebook is an e-book or electronic book which we can read in computers. 

Q6. Where was Margie's school? Did she have any classmates?

AnswerMargie's school was right next to her bedroom. No, she did not have any classmates. 

Q7. What subjects did Margie and Tommy learn?

AnswerMargie and Tommy learned geography, history and arithmetic.

II. Answer the following with reference to the story.
Q1. "I wouldn't throw it away."
(i) Who says these words?

AnswerTommy says these words.

(ii) What does 'it' refer to?

Answer'it' refers to the books in the television.

(iii) What is it being compared with by the speaker?

Answer: 'it', refering to the ebooks is being compared to the old book by Tommy.

Q2. Sure they had a teacher, but it wasn't a regular teacher. It was a man.
(i) Who does 'they' refer to?

Answer'they' refers to the students of old time.

(ii) What does 'regular' mean here?

AnswerAccording to Margie and Tommy a regular teacher was a mechanical teacher.

(iii) What is 'it' contrasted with?

Answer'it' is being contrasted with the techer who is a man.

III. Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 30 words).
Q1. What kind of teacher did Margie and Tommy have?

AnswerMargie and Tommy had a mechanical teacher at their home which taught them subjects like geography, history and arithmetic. The mechanical teacher was big and black and had slots for inserting homework and test papers which Margie had to write in a punch code.

Q2. Why did Margie's mother send for the County Inspector?

AnswerMargie always hated school, but now she hated it even more because it had been giving her test after test in geography and she had been doing worst and worst. That's why Margie's mother sent for the County Inspector .

Q3. What did he do?

AnswerThe Inspector was a round man with a little red face. He informed Margie's mother that the geography sector had geared a little too quick and that he had slowed it up to an average ten-year level.

Q4. Why was Margie donig badly in geography? What did the County Inspector do to help her?

AnswerMargie was doing badly in geography because the geography sector had geared up a little too quick and it had been giving her test after test. The County Inspector slowed it up to an average ten-year level.

Q5. What had once happened to Tommy's teacher?

AnswerOnce Tommy's teacher had been taken away for a month because it's history sector had blanked out completely.

Q6. Did Margie have regular days and hours for school? If so, why?

AnswerYes, Margie had regular days and hours for school except for Saturday and Sunday because her mother said that little girls learned better if they learned at regular hours.

Q7. How does Tommy describe the old kind of schools?

AnswerTommy describes the school as a special building where all the kids went and they had a teacher who was a man. The teacher gave the kids homework and asked them questions.

Q8. How does he describe the old kind of teachers?

AnswerThe old kind of teachers were human beings and not computers. They taught the kids in a special building and asked them questions.

(IV). Answer each of these questions in two or three paragraphs (100-150 words).

Q1. What are the main features of the mechanical teachers and the schoolrooms that Margie and Tommy have in the story?

AnswerThe mechanical teacher is large and black with a big screen and is kept in the schoolroom right next to her bedroom.
 It asks them questions of different subjects and has a special slot for submitting the tests and homework .Eveyday the mechanical teacher was on at the same time except for Saturday and Sunday.

Q2. Why did Margie hate school? Why did she think the old kind of school must have been fun?

AnswerMargie hated school because she did not like the mechanical teacher. Everyday she had to sit in the same schoolroom on the same time. She also did not have any classmates to discuss her homework with. She was thinking how in the old time children went to school, studied the same thing and after school discussed their homework.

Q3. Do you agree with Margie that schools today are more fun than the school in the story?

AnswerYes, I agree that schools today are more fun because students get to study with friends and classmates. Also the interaction between the student and teacher is important so that the student can understand things better. The students not only learn their syllabus but also learn moral values like sharing, helping, descipline, etc.

Thinking about Language
Read this sentence taken from the story :
         They had once taken Tommy's teacher
           away for nearly a month because history
           sector had blanked out completely.
The word complete is an adjective. When you add -ly to it, it becomes an adverb.
1.   Find the sentences in the lesson which have the adverbs given in the box below.
        awfully    sorrowfully     completely    
loftily   Carefully    differently   quickly 
 (i) Awfully'Thet 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.'

(ii) 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.'

(iii) Completely: 'They had once taken Tommy's teacher away for nearly a month because the history sector had blanked out completely.'

(iv) loftily: 'He added loftily, pronouncing the word carefully,''centuries ago."

(v) Carefully'He added loftily, pronouncing the word carefully,"centuries ago."

(vi) 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.

(vii) Quickly: " I didn't say I didn't like it," Margie said quickly.

(viii) 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 ______ so that performance can be improved.

   Answer: Carefully

        (ii) At the interview, Sameer answered our questions _______ shrugging his shoulders.

    Answer: Loftily

       (iii) We all behave ______ when we are tired or hungry.

    Answer: Differently

       (iv) The teacher shook her head _____ when Ravi lied to her.
     Answer: Sorrowfully

       (v) I _____ forgot about it.

     Answer: Completely

       (vi) When I complemented Rethavi on her success, she just smiled ______ and turned away.

      Answer: Nonchalantly

        (vii) The president of the company is _____ busy and will not be able to meet you.

      Answer: Awfully

        (viii) I finished my work _____ so that I could go out to play.

      Answer: Quickly

An adverb describes action. You can form adverbs by adding-ly to adjectives.
  Spelling Note: When an adjective ends in -y, the y changes to i when you add-ly to form an adverb.
 For example: angr-y angr-i-ly

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
Imagine that Margie's mother told her, "You'll feel awful if you don't finish

11. If Not and Unless
• Imagine that Margie's mother told her, "You'll feel awful if you don't finish your history lesson."
• She could also say: "You'll feel awful unless you finish your history lesson." 
Unless means if not. Sentences with unless or if not are negative conditional sentences.

Notice that these sentences have two parts. The part that begins with if not or unless tells us the condition. This part has a verb in the present tense (look at the verbs don't finish, finish in the sentences above).

The other part of the sentence tells us about a possible result. It tells us what will happen (if something else doesn't happen). The verb in this part of the sentence is in the future tense (you'll feel/you will feel).

Complete the following conditional sentences. Use the correct form of the verb.

1. If I don't go to Anu's party tonight, I will regret it later.

2. If you don't telephone the hotel to order food, then I will order it myself.

3. Unless you promise to write back, I will not write to you.

4. If she doesn't play any games, she will become dull.

5. Unless that little bird flies away quickly, the cat will eat it.


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 All 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.

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