The Future Of ….

Wired magazine always has a challenge on its last page. You’re asked to send them your ideas for how things will look and operate in the future. They’ve done the future of nursing homes, lunch trucks, playgrounds, and garage sales to name a few.

Let’s do one of our own. Plan on a bit of bricolage to help you describe the future of high school. Show us! Take us there! What’s going on? Who’s around?

18 responses to “The Future Of ….

  1. ANN (texting): All right, come to order, class. Welcome to Dreadnaught IV OS for DNA-Challenged Humans. This class is only for those born without the Digital 1.3 gene and the USB7 port installed in utero. Kindly check your Mandatory Selective Education RAM. If you do not have the Dreadnaught IV operating system Product Key, you are logged on to the wrong class.

    I see two voids on the eye scan chart. Did someone forget to scan when they booted up?

    (No responses.)

    Ann (texting): Guardian indicates Walk and Shaddy are not logged on. Anyone know where they are?

    Gullible (texting): Shaddy’s still working on NaNoWriMo XXXII. She’s at 33,675 words and …

    Ann (texting): Gullible. No need to run off at the keyboard. A simple “excused log off” is adequate.

    Gullible (texting): OK

    Ann (texting): And Walk?

    Barbara (texting): Locator indicates Walk is in the transporter. He had an appointment to have his USB7 port implanted this morning.

    Ann (texting): Good. That should speed up his processing. Now, let’s begin.

    ParrotWrites (texting): My Avatar has frozen.

    Ann (texting): Very well. Remove the Duplex Transmitter and reboot.

    PW (texting): Wkng Tnx

    Ann (texting): Yes, well, this brings up a subject I know you’re going to resent. There will be no Revised Digital English (American) in this class until we know the basics. Each and every word will be spelled out using Obsolete Written and Spoken English (American). Any other problems?

    Sandra Dee (texting): But OWSE(A) is so damn clunky.

    Carlspeaks (texting): 10-4

    Maureen (texting): Ditto.

    Walk (texting): Yep. (sent from my zCOM6)

    Lassie (texting): But won’t our thumbs atrophy?

    Ann (texting): I agree, but until I know that each and every one of you is literate in the Dreadnaught IV Operating System, we will use the OWSP(A) version. After all, you seniors can’t even download groceries or clothing, much less communicate with your grandchildren. Lassie, use isometric exercises on your thumbs.

    Students, open Beginning Writers Workshop, Lesson Four. Okay, let’s practice writing some action. You left Martha waiting for the bus in a winter storm. The bus has just pulled up. The first person off the bus is Martha’s ex-husband John…

    What happened? Did everyone loose connection at the same time?

    • I was so inspired, I decided to write this stupendously creative entry too. But you’re way ahead of me. Take a bow.

      (I may get there, but it will have to sneak up on me. This was so good.)

    • Can’t top this, but I’ll try, maybe if I quit laughing. Love it Gully, once again your writing amazed me.

    • Chloe brings her organic, homegrown-chocolate mocha latte back to her suspenso-bed, activates the wall Internet, and puts on her laser glasses. She beams a laser shaft to the Amazon icon while she sips and pokes the button for her ergonomic pillow support memory to get comfortable. She selects her Beginning Writers Workshop course from the Amazon selection to see who’s hanging out there. Ann’s avatar is there, of course, though Chloe suspects that Ann is not a real person but an assemblage, as many online people are these days—part Ann, part idealized writer personality, part bricoleur, part Mrs. Santa Claus. Chloe can see that several of her online friends are listed as present, and she clicks on their icons so she can see their faces along the top and sides of her wall. She giggles at the thought that early online courses involved people keyboarding at each other but never meeting.

      Ann is giving a lecture simultaneously with a 3D movie illustrating the concepts, but it automatically rewinds to the beginning so Chloe doesn’t miss any of it. Because of Amazon’s use of the handy string theory of multiple simultaneous universes, all the students are watching the avatar teacher in their own uniquely latticed present moment, while still being in Chloe’s time as well. It’s always funny for Chloe to realize that really, they’re all meeting on some anonymous space/time server orbiting Jupiter. She sets her latte in the temperature-controlled cup holder and pushes her bed-head hair out of her face.

      The lesson is about creativity—a topic Chloe finds interesting—so she decides to remain. She puts on her brain stimulator helmet and activates the perfect recall option. Her own creativity dial is set at medium. While being in student mode, she doesn’t want to get so many ideas she can’t absorb the specialized environmental stimuli coming from the helmet’s Suggest-o-Matic program which enhances every word, visual, and experience Ann, as well as all Chloe’s fellow classmates are sending out. School is by far the best place to senso-multi-task. Too bad real life isn’t this much fun.

      • Ah, ha! We could keep this school thing going, couldn’t we? Very nice, Ann. i like the laser idea but especially the multiple simultaneous universes. I often feel I tip back and forth in them. Could I pre-order one of the brain stimulator helmets?

      • I want a brain stimulator helmet too! Everyone’s so creative here. I love it!

  2. What a hoot! Great job, Gullie!

  3. I wish I could crawl around inside your head and see how you come up with this stuff. Thanks for the laugh.

  4. Linda, be my guest. If you figure it out, would you please let me know?

  5. Oops, I mean Lisa.

  6. Ha! Ha! You guys are so much fun! I don’t write often, but I do skulk, and I’m always entertained and amazed by your creativity.

  7. Class should study J.D.Robb’s ‘Eve Dallas’ books for great crime writing , superb dialogue, and page-turning future shlock.

    • Never read her stuff because she also writes Harlequin romances as Nora Roberts. Will the real J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts/Jill March/Sarah Hardesty/Eleanor Marie Robertson please stand up?

  8. Ann (texting): Class? Class? Oh, there you are. It appears opening the John and Martha exercise caused a syntax error and a buffering overload. That’s never happened before.

    I see Walk and Shaddy have joined us. Shaddy? Finished with NaNoWriMo XXXII?

    Shaddy (texting): Yes, all 50,000 words sent and received.

    Ann (texting): And Walk? Everything go all right with the USB7 Implantation?

    Walk (texting): Yes, fine indeedy. (Rubs his right index finger back and forth over the port, which is about the size of an uncooked grain of rice in the fleshy base of his left thumb.)

    Ann (texting): Any discomfort?

    Walk (texting): None at all. They used that new Subliminal Anti-Pain Therapy and closed the incision with Super Glue. Everything’s fine.

    Ann (texting): Very well, let’s get underway. I am going to consult with the ITs about the John and Martha program errors. In the meantime, my avatar Henry3.1 will take over the class. He will give you step by step instructions on how to transition from your old PCs and laptops to the new laser-enabled pads so we can dispense with texting.

    Lassie (texting): Wait! I only have eight more isometric reps for my thumbs and I’ll have my 500.

    Ann (texting): Seriously, Lassie, you don’t need that anymore. Texting is as passé as… Well, as TV sets.

    (laughter)

    So, Class, meet Henry3.1.

    In Shaddy’s writing nook, Henry3.1 appeared on the high stool across from her at her kitchen café table.

    At Walk’s home, where Walk was reclined in his bionosphere air recliner, Henry3.1 intentionally inserted itself between Walk and the 3-D version of Beach Blanket Bimbos that was playing over the living room carpet. The avatar waggled its finger at Walk, who blinked twice, turning off the thought-controlled program.

    In Gullible’s loft, Henry sat next to Pablo on the parrot’s perch, which immediately tried to bite the avatar. With each attempt, the parrot’s pupils constricted tighter and more red spots appeared in its orange irises.

    Chloe (texting): Henry3.1, would you please move to the chair at my desk. It’s kind of creepy having you sitting on the end of my bed in the lotus position.

    Henry3.1 transmogrified and reappeared sitting on the desk chair, though still in the lotus position.

    Orlando was driving his 1962 white Cadillac Convertible down Revolucion Avenue in Little Havana, a white Panama hat at a rakish tilt on his head and a false mustachio on his upper lip. He was concentrating so completely on a debonair appearance while tapping his fingers and nodding his head in time with Oldies but Oro Macarena music while pretending to ignore the chiquitas strolling down the sidewalk, that he totally forgot about class, thus leaving open the portal on his Sapphiretooth ear bud.

    When Henry3.1 appeared suddenly in the passenger seat (hand sewn tuck and roll leather, $69 at his cousin Jose’s auto shop), Orlando immediately stomped on the brake pedal with both feet, scuffing the black patent leather on his new dress shoes and aggravating the bunion on his left foot, but bringing the Caddy and everything in it to a screeching halt, everything but the Panama hat, which, having been at a precarious rakish angle, continued moving at the previous 45 mph velocity, flew over the windshield, bounced twice on the asphalt before jumping the sidewalk curb where it tipped up on its brim and rolled toward Sra. Martinez, who was walking her Japanese Akita named Shogun.

    The massive canine spotted the white UFO cartwheeling toward it, spun around and ran away as fast as it could. Sra. Martinez, a good twenty pounds lighter than Shogun, had the misfortune not to be holding the handle of the retractable leash as she has been instructed at Pet Warehouse when she bought the leash, but instead had inserted her whole hand through the loop, which obligated her to follow the terror-stricken dog as it raced towards Juanita’s Cervaza Bar and Day Spa, much to the consternation of the regular afternoon patrons who were by this time on their third or fourth Coronas.

    Orlando and Henry3.1 sat transfixed in the white Caddy, watching as tables, chairs, bowls of cut limes, corn chips, and salsa-flavored tofu (“no red dye No. 5 added”) went airborne in the wake of the huge dog and the trailing Sra. Martinez.

    “Did you see that?” said Orlando, noting that Sra. Martinez’s feet only managed to touch solid ground every ten feet or so.

    Henry3.1, being an avatar and unable to feel or exhibit emotion, was nonetheless an Instructional avatar and thus programmed to recognize and solve potential problems, so it responded, “It would behoove us to relocate the portal device.”

    Whereupon Orlando trounced on the accelerator pedal with a force equal to that which he previously had applied to the brake pedal, causing the automobile to hang a youie in the middle of the avenue and leave enough rubber to lay bare some of the polyester cords in the rear tires. When the huge flying tail fins were relatively straight, Orlando punched the accelerator again, whipped the vehicle right at the first cross street, and headed for his cousins Jose’s auto shop where in an hour the once-white Caddy would emerge a subdued powder-coated black ($695 less 30% discount for family).

    • You might try writing some science fiction. Make sure it has a parrot in it. Perhaps he has a robotic leg or something interesting.

  9. Non, no. The perch didn’t try to bite Henry3.1. Pablo did. And it’s cerveza.

  10. Maria entered the school office and approached the counter, behind which sat an agreeable looking woman pecking away at a keyboard. “Excuse me.”

    The woman looked up and smiled. “Yes, dear?”

    “Um, I’m transferring here. My name is Maria Corbett.”

    “Welcome! I’m Mrs. Oswald, the school administrator. Do you have your identification?”

    Maria slid her backpack onto the floor and, after digging around in an outside pouch, pulled out a plastic card with a magnetic strip on the back. Mrs. Oswald took it from her and swiped it through the slot on the side of her computer monitor.

    “Ah, yes, there you are! We’re so happy to have you here Maria. I will download your schedule and a map of the school to your tablet. Do you have one with you?”

    “I’m not sure what you mean. I have a binder in my pack?”

    “Oh, you won’t need that anymore. I can assign a personal computer tablet to you from our school supplies.”

    “I don’t have to buy one?”

    “No, our school budget covers a tablet for everyone.”

    “You can afford that?”

    “Absolutely.”

    “Wow, okay. So, where do I get my textbooks?”

    Mrs. Oswald peered at Maria over her reading glasses. “You’re transferring in from one of the outlying districts, correct?”

    “Yes.”

    “Right. I keep forgetting they haven’t upgraded yet. What we do here is download all your textbooks to your tablet. No more lugging around heavy backpacks. You can complete tests and assignments on your tablet as well, and submit them to the teacher’s secure website or email. Less paper for everyone to keep track of.”

    Mari chewed on her lower lip. “When we got the instructions from the school district, there was no list of school supplies that we’d need. I brought pens, pencils, colored markers, a calculator, lined paper, and stuff like that.”

    Mrs. Oswald laughed. “How quaint. You can leave all that at home dear. All your class work will be done on your tablet. It even comes with a stylus so you have the choice of writing in cursive or typing with the built-in keyboard. It has a calculator for math and different colored fonts for artwork that are synced with the whiteboards in the art rooms. Now, were you in choir, orchestra, or band?”

    Somewhat dazedly, Maria replied, “I played the trumpet in band at my old school.”

    Tapping away at the keyboard, Mrs. Oswald muttered, “Right, we’ll download your trumpet workbook and band sheet music.”

    Handing a slim computer tablet to Maria, Mrs. Oswald smiled. “There you go. Your locker number and combination are programmed in here. Why don’t you put that backpack and your jacket in your locker and then come back here to meet with the aptitudes counsellor. She’ll help you determine your course of study. Bring your tablet back with you.”

    Maria found her way to her locker, deposited her belongings, and returned to the office. Mrs. Oswald directed her down a hallway to the counsellor’s office. A nameplate on the door identified the counsellor as Mrs. Adams.

    As Maria hesitated in the doorway, Mrs. Adams looked up from her desk and smiled broadly. “Welcome. You must be Maria. Come on in and make yourself comfortable. Let’s figure out where your strengths are and what classes to put you in.”

    Maria sat down on a floral-patterned, fabric-covered stuffed chair. “I thought my schedule would be pretty much the same as from my old high school?”

    Mrs. Adams pursed her lips. “Oh, we do things a little differently. Here, students can focus their studies on areas in which they are gifted or talented.”

    Maria looked puzzled. “You mean you aren’t just going to give me a schedule of classes I’m supposed to take?”

    “Not here. What subjects do you like? What subjects are you really good at?”

    Maria took a deep breath. “I love math but never felt like I could say so because it wasn’t something girls were supposed to like or be good at!”

    Mrs. Adams smiled again. “Students here are praised for their academic strengths and abilities, no matter their gender. And, while we strive for academic excellence, creativity is also encouraged and nurtured. Music, art, dance, and drama all get equal billing with the academic subjects. We believe school should be fun and exciting. Do you like to do any of those?”

    Maria leaned forward eagerly. “I’ve always wanted to act, but our school budget couldn’t afford a drama class.”

    “Well, we certainly have that.”

    Maria frowned. “What about gym class? I’ve never been good at team sports but always had to take part in my old school. And, if you weren’t a good player, you always ended up being the last one picked for the team. But I am good at gymnastics and track and things like that.”

    Mrs. Adams nodded understandingly. “Maria, here sports are played for fun, not just for winning. Co-operation is rewarded, not the single-minded pursuit of one goal at the expense of all others. And, we have many different types of individual sports where you can exercise your own preference. The list is quite extensive.”

    Maria grinned. “Wow, I’m really going to like it here!”

    Mrs. Adams grinned back. “We’re lucky. After the last election, our district government had a massive shift in priorities and we received a huge influx of funding. This is the future of high school.”

    • That final paragraph was bitter sweet. So often schools look a bit like prisons. Even introducing an overstuffed chair in the classroom would be considered subversive these days. Maybe continuing education (no grades! no credits! flexible schedules! low costs!) will become the preferred method of learning soon. Amazing vision on your part.

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