The Future of Technology
Technology is becoming more powerful and helpful to everyone every day. However, even though the technology is very helpful, the use of technology should not be taken too far. In the story “The Fun They Had” by Isaac Asimov, two children named Margie and Tommy are in the year 2155, when they discover an old book when books are not common. The book has information about how students went to school with a class of the same age and with a human teacher. Margie goes to school dreaming about how school was back in the day. She thinks about the fun the students had, the interaction with each other, and the games they played in the schoolyard. Margie wishes that she had a school like the students had back in the day. The story, “The Fun They Had,” conveys the message that although technology may help students in many ways if taken to an extreme, technology can undermine the pillars of education by depriving students of social interactions, the fun of education, and human sympathy.
Asimov warns that extreme reliance on technology in education can deprive students from social interactions, which is one of the most important pillars of education. In the story “The Fun They Had,” Margie and Tommy are in the year 2155, when school is different from how it was back in the day. One major drawback of school in 2155 is that students do not interact with each other in a classroom; they each have their own mechanical teacher. Before class, Margie is talking to Tommy about what school was back in the day and Tommy told “They have a special building and all the kids went there.” Margie is surprised because her school has only one student and one mechanical teacher, thus, there are no human interactions. In addition, during Margie’s class, Margie imagines how “All the kids were sitting together in the schoolroom, going home together at the end of the day.” However, schooling in 2155 involves no student interactions because the school in 2155 is just a student and mechanical teacher. Because there is no human interaction, Margie does not enjoy her class.
Too much dependence on technology in education can also reduce the amount of fun that students can have while learning. School is not only about education and studying; it is also about playing outside, group discussions, and having fun. However, in the story “The Fun They Had,” school does not include any fun. For example, during class Margie thinks how “All the kids from the whole neighborhood came, laughing and shouting in the yard.” Margie wishes that school back in the day was like her school because of the fun they had. Because students in 2155 are homeschooled by a mechanical teacher, they do not have the fun that students in the past used to have while learning.
Finally, Asimov warns that if technology is taken to an extreme, it can deprive students of human sympathy. Teachers’ job is not only to teach, grade, and test, but also to support, encourage, and help the students. Teachers have the ability to feel human sympathy which allows the students to learn. Nevertheless, in “The Fun They Had,” the mechanical teacher’s job is to teach the lesson, grade the assignments, and test the student. Margie struggles with many subjects in school, for instance, geography. Margie has taken many geography tests; however, she keeps “doing worse and worse until her mother shakes her head sorrowfully and sends for the County Inspector.” Margie struggles with geography, but because the mechanical teacher does not feel human sympathy, it does not provide additional support or help, leading Margie to get poorer grades.
Asimov aims to convey the message that even though technology helps students in several ways, if taken to an extreme, technology can undermine the pillars of education by depriving students of social interactions, the fun of education, and human sympathy. Technology is useful and can help students; however, people should not use technology to the point that it undermines the pillars of education. The pandemic, in fact, has shown the people the value of social interactions, the fun of education, and human sympathy, things that many people and students took for granted for many years. It is interesting to see students looking forward to going to school in person, something that before the pandemic many wished they did not have to do.