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You know when I was in class 9, there was this chapter called The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov  (students who have studied or are  studying in class 9 after the 2018 session will know about it 😉). So, this chapter is set in the year 2155. For real.

 It’s about two school age friends living in the 22nd century (the same century as Doraemon, can you believe it?) and having a conversation about an ordinary book (in today’s time) . They had TV screens which had books with moving words, mechanical teachers who came on their screens every weekday at the same time. The two of them and all the other children their age had to submit their homework and test papers written in a punch code into a slot.

 They had never heard about the schools in the 21st century (the kind of where I go to) and were unaware about the concept of a school building,a human teacher, classroom or the children of the same age learning the same things together.

Okay, so now what’s unusual with a short fiction story written by one of the greatest science fiction authors, set in the 22nd century? There’s actually nothing wrong.

 Except that there’s one quirk – It is not fiction. Trust me, it’s not.

 I mean just consider the students around you. They have online classes everyday at the same time. They have to submit their homework on Google Classroom. They (in fact, most of us) use Google, YouTube, NCERT pdf books and Kindle  to read and learn about something.

It’s not like they are unfamiliar with a school building or a human teacher or a classroom. Instead, they are familiar with both ends of rope. They know the joy of going to school for the sole intent of meeting their friends, the joy of laughing their hearts out and shouting in the school ground and going home together at the end of the day. They also had (not these days though) the advantage of helping each other with studies and homework (and occasionally, or maybe more than occasionally rewriting it).   

My point being? 

My point being that this short story was written 1951 as a fiction and it was supposed to be actualised somewhere around 2155 (if ever it was supposed to be actualised). But look at us now. We have actually accomplished this in 2020. Sure, there are no mechanical teachers or homework to be put into slots. But we are ahead of our envisioned fate. About a hundred and twenty years ahead. That’s the power of imagination.

You come up with things about a hundred years of you. People use gizmos, that someone who died about twenty five years ago would not believe could exist. It’s true. Necessity is the mother of invention.

P.S. At the time when we were reading this chapter in class, we had a discussion on the opinion of all the students whether they preferred the future school or the current, and whether they’d rather study from a mechanical teacher or a human teacher. 

Well, I chose the current school and a human teacher,  not only because I felt that there is no substitute for human interaction but also  because a teacher by definition is a person who teaches, according to Oxford.   So, a mechanical teacher wouldn’t exactly be a teacher 🤷‍♀️ If it were in my control, I’d stick to human teachers, no matter what. I would surely favor the numerous enhancements. I’m not saying that the human teachers are threatened. I’m just suggesting that if the situation came where one had to choose between a mechanical teacher and human teacher, I’d choose the latter.

P.P.S. I never thought I’d come back to study this chapter from class 9. But here I was studying the entire chapter all over again for this post. I guess that’s what life is. Coming back to things you never would.

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