Margie even wrote it that night in her diary. On the page headed May 17, 2155, she 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 there was a time 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.
“Gee,” said Tommy, “what a waste. When you’re through with the book, you just throw it away, I guess. Our television screen must have had a million books on it, and it’s good for plenty more. I wouldn’t throw it away.”
“School? What’s there to write about school? I hate school. Margie always hated school, but now she hated it more than ever. 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. “
The Inspector had smiled after he was finished and patted Margie’s head. He said to her mother, “It’s not the little girl’s fault, Mrs. Jones. I think the geography sector was geared a little too quick. Those things happen sometimes. I’ve slowed it up to an average ten-year level. Actually, the overall pattern of her progress is quite satisfactory.”
Tommy looked at her with very superior eye. “Because it’s not our kind of school, stupid. This is the old kind of school that they had hundreds and hundreds of years ago.” He added loftily, pronouncing the word carefully, “Centuries ago.”
“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.”
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 […] Margie was thinking about how the kids must have loved it in the old days. She was thinking about the fun they had.