The Fun They Had
|"The Fun They Had"|
|Published in||Boys and Girls Page|
|Media type||Print (Newspaper, Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)|
|Publication date||1 December 1951|
"The Fun They Had" is a science fiction story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in a children's newspaper in 1951 and was reprinted in the February 1954 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Earth Is Room Enough (1957), 50 Short Science Fiction Tales (1960), and The Best of Isaac Asimov (1973). It has been modified in a Finnish English book called KEY English 8-9.
Written as a personal favor for a friend, "The Fun They Had" became "probably the biggest surprise of my literary career", Asimov wrote in 1973. He reported that it had been reprinted more than 30 times with more being planned. It is about computerized homeschooling, and what children miss out on by not being in school together. He surmised that the story is popular with children because "the kids would get a bang out of the irony."
Set in the year 2157, when children learn individually at home using a mechanical teacher. They do not have any friends and they are not aware of society. The story tells of 11-year-old Margie Jones, whose neighbor Tommy finds a real book in the attic of his house. This reminds Margie of the stories her grandfather used to tell of the earlier school days. The book tells of a time when children used to learn in a group of the same age of students in large schools that were not merely designated rooms in private houses as in Margie and Tommy's time. Margie and Tommy discuss what it must have been like to study together with a real person as a teacher, and though at first Margie is skeptical about the notion, by the end of the story she daydreams while sitting on the chair before the mechanical teacher about what it must have been like for the children and thought of "the fun they had".