2110; An American Digital Odyssey

By Jacob Gutnicki

Today in class we were told that we were going to research how people lived in the early 21st century. This assignment will include the following components;

On Tuesday we will open a time capsule buried 100 years ago. Our task will be to read the time capsule entry, take notes on what we read, and conduct further research on what we have uncovered. Our research will include making use of the International Digital Library, interviewing at least 2 elders who lived during that time, and locating primary source documents that show differing opinions. After this is done, we are expected to design a 3D recreation of what we learned.

Well… Tuesday could not arrive quickly enough. In my box, there were a few items. One item was a thick paper document labeled PL 107-110, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. My box also included a rectangular box labeled iPod and what appeared to be a cowboy doll. Using the ring on my finger, I scanned the artifacts and uplinked it to the International Digital Library. As it turns out, the iPod was some kind of ancient music and video device used during the early 21st century and the cowboy doll was called Woody from a movie that was popular in the late 20th century.

Finally, there was the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This yielded a tremendous number of results with differing opinions. I started to ask a number of elders about No Child Left Behind. They too had opinions that were inconsistent. Needless to say this was very confusing. So… I decided to talk to great gramps. Great Gramps was 98 years old, blunt as ever, and sharp as a whistle. He also probably knew more about this subject as he actually lived around those times.

A little later that day, I visited Great Gramps and asked him about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. He said, “You mean NCLB. Why on earth would you want to know about that wretched bill?” I told great gramps that it was homework. He said, “Very well. Let me tell you about No Child Left Behind. It was the age of testing. Students were tested in every subject, every year. Many local school systems also ran 3-5 practices tests a year, along with expensive data stratification systems to determine student weaknesses and strengths. This in turn caused schools to spend an inordinate amount on test preparation activities.”

I said, “It seems so strange and archaic. When did the kids have time to write creative stories, run science experiments, and be a kid? ”

Great gramps said, “In many cases it was not easy. Fortunately, many schools found creative ways to do both and eventually the law was changed. About 75 years later, there was a major grassroots movement that advocated for school programs that foster creativity and inventiveness. After all Thomas Edison only had 4 years of schooling and Ben Franklin only had 2 years of schooling and look at what they accomplished. So… on the 300th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 2076) No Child Left Behind was not renewed and was replaced with the Innovate our Children Act and as they say the rest is history.”

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