When I was in high school, about the coolest technology we had was called a Sony Walkman. I can still remember what it felt like to put those foam headphones on for the first time and play Neil Diamond’s “America” from the movie The Jazz Singer. I’d never experienced anything like it. Suddenly the music was all I heard, and it was like I was in another world.
If that is all feeling like jibberish to you, then the word cassette might also feel foreign. The Walkman player used cassette tapes as the source for the sound. I still have some old cassettes that contain some precious content.
During this time and as I moved into young adulthood, talking into a cassette recorder was considered a special way to stay in touch with friends who were serving as missionaries on the other side of the world. When I served as a missionary, to receive a cassette from someone was about the best treat I could receive. Today, sharing and recording our voices is so common we hardly think about it, but back then, it was quite a wonder.
Walking down Walkman lane reminds me of a my English teacher during my junior year of high school. He stretched us both in terms of what he had us read and what he asked us to write. I worked hard in that class, and looked forward to feedback he would give on my writing.
Mr. E was a teacher before his time. Instead of just writing feedback on our papers, he recorded his thoughts and responses and writing tips on a cassette tape. In this way, he wasn’t just giving feedback, he was nurturing a relationship and letting technology extend time in the classroom. It was almost as if we were sitting down, one-on-one, going over my paper.
Today, teachers are just expected to use technology as part of their teaching. But I got a taste of how personal and unique it can be when a teacher uses technology with intention. Thanks, Mr. E.