Once upon a time, in a land far away, lived a group of wizards. These wizards were old and very set in their ways. They had control of the people in the land and made families in all the villages send their young to great stone buildings they had built in the centre of each village. Every day the young villagers filed into the buildings, separated by age into large rooms, made to sit in straight rows facing forward. Most of the rooms were dark, with bland, gray walls and an even darker wall for writing. The wizards called the young villagers “students”, and created strict rules about what they could and could not do in their great buildings. One of the most important rules was to listen to whomever was at the front of the room. And students were definitely not allowed to talk to each other, not even a whisper.
The wizards also chose certain adult villagers to spend time with the groups of young students, telling them things they needed to know. The wizards called them “teachers” and gave them lists of things to teach the students. Cynthia had been chosen to teach some years ago, and since then had been following the wizard’s rules exactly. Every day she would stand in front of the rows of students and talk to them about numbers, words and nature. She would use the black writing wall to record some of the more important points, and watched to be sure the students wrote all of these important points down.To her surprise, even though she had been told that this was what she had to do, she secretly found joy in spending time with the young villagers, helping them learn.
One day Cynthia looked up from a lecture on numbers to see many of the students were either not paying attention or asleep. What was going on? She had tried so hard to make numbers exciting and keep the students interested. What was wrong with her? What would the wizards say when the students didn’t know the things they needed to know? Cynthia went home that night and stayed up until the early hours trying to come up with an even more exciting way to talk about numbers. She finally collapsed into bed just before the sun came up. Struggling past the sleep in her eyes, she made her way back to the great building in the centre of the village.
Despite her best efforts, the students did not seem to find the next day’s lesson any more exciting than the last. Cynthia began noticing students hiding their hands under their tables, concentrating on something that wasn’t what she was doing. Walking around the room she spotted something she had never seen before.
What was this thing? What was it used for? And where did the young villagers find it? Was it safe? Cynthia felt a rush of fear at this unknown object that was in the hands of many of her students. What should she do? Cynthia went back to the front of the room and finished her lecture for the day. After class, she ran to find another teacher, and told them what happened. The news spread like wildfire, and soon every teacher was looking out for these strange new objects. More and more of the students had them, but the teachers could not figure out what they were using them for. Soon other objects began appearing in the classrooms, each more puzzling than the next.