Thanks to the Chronicle for pointing me to Beloit College’s annual Mind-Set List, which reminds us just how out of touch we old fogies are with this year’s crop of first-year students. As the Chronicle notes:
The Mind-Set List draws much of its inspiration from the blank stares of students too young to understand popular references from an older generation, said Ron Nief, the college’s public-affairs director, who co-writes the annual list with Thomas E. McBride, a professor of English. Many students associate “Here’s Johnny” with “that guy breaking into the bathroom” in The Shining, Mr. Nief said, not to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, which tuned out when most of the new freshmen were still rug rats.
The list is roughshod, allowing for multiyear fudge factors, but the 70 items generally celebrate the blissful innocence of a MySpace-addicted generation. For these students, there has never been a Berlin Wall, and they tend to have learned about John F. Kennedy from Oliver Stone, and about Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
Here’s an item that grieved me: the class of 2011 has never “rolled down” a car window. That’s just wrong. On the other hand, women’s studies majors have always been offered on campuses in their lifetime.
Go check out the list. You’ll either enjoy it or it’ll make you tear out your hair.