Beloit College circulates a list each year to prepare the profs for the new generation of students--a "mindset" list. The idea is to prepare profs for the reality that our students have a different mindset. Of course, the first question is: should we care? Well, some of this does deal with communication, so we need to be prepared to communicate with them, although bending to their preferences/styles may be doing all of us a disservice. And for those who use pop culture as part of our teaching style (that would be me), then we need to update our references (Monty Python is dead to them, for instance).
Anyway, here is some of the list and my reactions in blue:
1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive. Good: printing is easier to read when grading in class exam booklets, although I try to avoid such things when i can.
2. E-mail is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail. I did not find this a problem last year. Are this year's students that much different? I will not be facebook friends with new students so they cannot expect to chat with me, nor will I skype. I prefer email as it leaves a trail--that I can use the past emails to remind me what I have committed to do (grant extensions, whatever).
3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia… and learn Chinese along the way.” Is there more interest in Asia now? Not so sure, as folks in Montreal tend to look to Europe still.
4. Al Gore has always been animated. This is already out of date--has Al always been considered a sexual predator?
6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High. This seems dated--are the 18th years of today focused on a 1990's vampire slayer?
8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities. Academia, I think, was ahead of the curve on accommodating student disabilities--we have entire offices and procedures dedicated to this stuff, so this is not so new.
9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend. As the kids would say, WTF?
10. A quarter of the class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority … unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet. Oh, I think xenophobia still matters especially in poli sci classes.
11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis. That has been true for nearly forever.
12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry. Ok, that is a significant cultural change.
13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation. For a year maybe. Jeez, this list is out of touch.
14. Dr. Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine. Another really dated reference. Dr. K is irrelevant and has been for quite some time.
15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause. Yes, this is a post 9/11 generation--and that is significant.
16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways. Korean today, Japanese yesterday. Yes, I do remember when people started to buy Japanese cars. That was much more of a shift. That the government owns the North American car industry--that is new.
18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess. Yes, this is a generational difference.
19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone. Or dialed....
20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed. But are they smarter criminals? I don't think so.
22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech. Well, always protected forever. First by racist cops and now by the courts.
23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars. Real relevant for 18 year olds.
24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording. More importantly, Ice-T has always been a movie star and they might be surprised to find that he was once a radical rapper.
25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks. These kids are probably unaware of Leno and Letterman, mostly, as they focus on youtube clips of Kimmel, Fallon, Stewart, and Colbert. [the guy who came up with this list is really a fogey]
26. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides. Unless they watch Mad Men. And those things have been obsolete for nearly all of my life.
27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive. Um, you mean, DVD player, right?
28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day. Oooo, nice one.
32. Czechoslovakia has never existed. More importantly, no Soviet Union. And, forget Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin is beyond their memory.
33. Secondhand smoke has always been an official carcinogen. And they still smoke. So what?
35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall. More importantly, travel is much more uptight than it once was.
36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones. More importantly, they are used to seeing interracial couples and kids produced by them. When I was a kid, interracial couples were far and few between..
37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.” The Queen has been irrelevant for generations, dude.
38. Bud Selig has always been the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Now that is depressing.
40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics. AIDS was far more central to my generation than to theirs, I think.
43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space. Space? We have a space program?
44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs. Yes, and more importantly, journalism is now mostly devoid of anything besides "he said, she said".
45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college. This is perhaps the most significant item on the list--the students come to higher ed with more liefe experience than in my dya.
47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents. Yet more BS.
52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church. Is this the best measure or indicator of the progress of women? How about: there has always been a female or African-American secretary of state?
54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy. Yes, Bosnia and Rwanda are in their pasts.
55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties. Did you hear, Rock and Roll just sold out, man!
59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola’s new Tab Clear, it was gone. Coke Zero, dude.
62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine. Dude, there is more good TV now than ever before. What is the guy watching?
64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely. Sort of.
66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church. Ok, the list-writer is really old.
67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court. The same can be said for any SC Justice at any given time.
68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S. Yes, this is the big one--that the fear of nuclear war is largely incredible to them.
70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping. Snoop has been the Fonz ever since the Fonz jumped the shark.