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Entries in education (24)

Wednesday
Aug242011

The Push-Button School of Tomorrow (1958)

The May 5, 1958 edition of Arthur Radebaugh's Sunday comic, Closer Than We Think, showed off the high-tech school of tomorrow. With hordes of baby boomers flooding into public schools in the 1950s, it makes sense that this strip would focus on different solutions for overcrowding with that technological optimism we identify as being uniquely post-war American.

The student desk of the future includes a small camera, presumably so that the teacher being projected on a large screen in the front of the class can keep tabs on the little rascals. One thing that fascinates me about computer consoles of the retrofuture is that the QWERTY keyboard is not yet an assumed input device. Each computing device seems tailored to meet the needs of the intended user, as with this learning machine of the futuristic year 1999 and this auto-tutor from the 1964 New York World's Fair. That being said, the Google of 1964 was quaintly analog with its typewriter attachment.

One of my favorite details from this panel is the kid in the white shirt who's waving to someone in a gryocopter just outside the window. Better pay attention, lil' Johnny! TEACHER IS WATCHING!

Tomorrow's schools will be more crowded; teachers will be correspondingly fewer. Plans for a push-button school have already been proposed by Dr. Simon Ramo, science faculty member at California Institute of Technology. Teaching would be by means of sound movies and mechanical tabulating machines. Pupils would record attendance and answer questions by pushing buttons. Special machiens would be "geared" for each individual student so he could advance as rapidly as his abilities warranted. Progress records, also kept by machine, would be periodically reviewed by skilled teachers, and personal help would be available when necessary.

Many thanks, as always, to Tom Z. for the color scan of this strip.

Tuesday
Jul132010

Electronic Home Library (1959)

Remember 1959? You were just 9 years old, with not a care in the world (except maybe nuclear winter). You spread the Sunday paper out across the living room floor of your suburban Chicago home, and excitedly flipped to the funny pages. Closer Than We Think! Your favorite!

What fantastical promise from the future did Mr. Radebaugh have for you this week? Cars that run on sunshine? Tomatoes as big as Verne Gagne's head? Underseas highways to the land of godless commies? No, something even more ridiculous! A home library of electronic media! What a weird futuristic world that would be! Gosh golly, what will they think of next!

Some unusual inventions for home entertainment and education will be yours in the future, such as the "television recorder" that RCA's David Sarnoff described recently.

With this device, when a worthwhile program comes over the air while you are away from home, or even while you're watching it, you'll be able to preserve both the picture and sound on tape for replaying at any time. Westinghouse's Gwilym Price expects such tapes to reproduce shows in three dimensions and color on screens as shallow as a picture.

Another pushbutton development will be projection of microfilm books on the ceiling or wall in large type. To increase their impact on students, an electronic voice may accompany the visual passages.

Eternal thanks to my Closer Than We Think pusher Tom Z., without whom I would be living in a cold, dark world of black and white comic strips.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Dec052009

A Whole World of Metal Men? (1937)

Reading about robots as envisioned in the 1920s and 30s, it is always a question of when robots would replace humans in every facet of life, rather than if. This article from the October 17, 1937 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) paints a pretty bleak picture of the future of humankind. You really need to read the full article to appreciate just how far along this robo-dystopia had been imagined.

But Professor von Schmidt saw the possibility of robots becoming so well-developed mechanically that they will automatically be abel to control each other, and will outlive and perhaps wipe out their creators, man. They may become such perfect "supermen" that will despise their inferior inventors and keep them locked up in reservations and escape-proof prisons until the race dies out.

As terrible and fantastic as all this may sound, thoughtful men in Europe think it is becoming a likelihood with inventions already perfected by science. Indeed, a peep at this world of the future has been given in some extremely interesting pictures, a few of which are shown on this page.

1937 Oct 17 San Antonio Light - San Antonio TX

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Sep052009

Solar Cars, Electric Guitars and Bionic Arms (1977)

The Journal News of Hamilton, OH devoted much of its February 27, 1977 edition to "Our Third 100 Years." Harding Junior High student James Schmidt wrote a piece for the newspaper, imagining what life might look like in the 21st century. James describes 13-year-old kids driving solar-powered cars, futuristic electric guitars and his father's bionic arm. Sounds about right.

1977 Feb 27 Journal News - Hamilton OH Paleo-future

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Wednesday
Mar182009

The Public School of Tomorrow (1912)

The March 7, 1912 Spirit Lake Beacon (Spirit Lake, IA) published a piece by V.A. Arnold titled, "The Public School of Tomorrow."

It's interesting to see transportation discussed as a way to revolutionize education in the early 20th century. An excerpt from the piece appears below, along with the article in its entirety.

Our future transportation for the school of tomorrow will be the automobile, interurban railway, mono railway, gyroscope car, overhead cable car, pneumaticair pressure tubes, flying machines and other means of travel, which future geniuses may develop. Distance will be annihilated and many miles will be as one mile today. Population will be more dense in our rural districts and there will be a family on every forty acres or less.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Friday
Nov212008

Moving Pictures to Show Schoolboys of 1995 Our Time (1920)

The March 18, 1920 Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) declared that movies would help future generations better understand the past. This piece has striking similarities to 1920's predictions of movies replacing textbooks. The piece is also interesting to read side-by-side with "Big Laughs Coming" from the Modesto Evening News in 1922.

Every moving picture is a contribution, for the benefit of posterity, to the history of our time, its manners, its customs, its thoughts, its virtues and its follies.

 

To the schoolboy of the year 1995 history will not merely be something to be memorized out of books. It will be visualized and made real for him by the moving pictures that are being made now. The people of our time will not be mere history book ghosts to this boy but living creatures who smile at him and walk and play and love and hate and work and eat.

If only we had today moving pictures of the times of Washington and Lincoln! Imagine a Fourth of July celebration with moving pictures of the signing of the Declaration!

The historical value of moving picture plays will be as great as that of movies of current events. The 1920 photoplay exhibited in the year 1995 will serve as an exposition of the social life and manners of this period.

And, despite its faults, the present generation will make a fairly good showing when it appears in the movies before posterity in 1995 and thereabouts. The schoolboys of that time may laugh at some of the ways of their ancestors, but, in the main, they will agree that they were a pretty good sort at that.


Read more:
Movies Will Replace Texbooks (1922)
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Movie Theater of the Future (1930)
Movies to be Produced in Every Home (1925)
Big Laughs Coming (1922)

 

Monday
Jul072008

Movies Will Replace Textbooks (1922)

The 2006 book Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change by Bob Seidensticker is a fascinating read. From page 103:

Schools have had a longstanding immunity against the introduction of new technologies. In 1922 Thomas Edison predicted that movies would replace textbooks. In 1945 one forecaster imagined radios as common as blackboards in classrooms. In the 1960s, B.F. Skinner predicted that teaching machines and programmed instruction would double the amount of information students could learn in a given time. Filmstrips and other audiovisual aids were fads thirty years ago, and the television, now seen as a supplier of brain candy, once had a sterling reputation as an education machine.


See also:
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Movies to be Produced in Every Home (1925)