Thus Spake Zuska

They’re Younger Every Year…

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.

Comments

  1. #1 Adrienne
    August 24, 2007

    “On the other hand, women’s studies majors have always been offered on campuses in their lifetime…” That’s NOT a good thing. Women’s studies as taught on just about all college campuses is probably the most intellectually lightweight a subject as you could hope to study.

  2. #2 Heather
    August 24, 2007

    “55. MTV has never featured music videos.”

    That’s great. I remember when you could still find music videos without having to switch to MTV 4 or 5…

    Also, I don’t see how they ‘txt’ that much. My (way) younger sister sent over 6k text messages over 1 month! I think my thumbs would fall off.

  3. #3 fjord_penguin
    August 24, 2007

    I’m only six years older than the kids this list is written about, and I don’t know how they text that much either. How do they even have that much to say?

  4. #4 RyanG
    August 24, 2007

    Brian May has always been working on his doctorate.
    Freddie has always been dead.
    So has Cobain.

    OJ Simpson has nothing to do with football.

    America has never really been into manufacturing.

  5. #5 Tony P
    August 24, 2007

    I know all about this. I’m 42 so references from the 60′s on up I know about. I even know something about the 30′s, 40′s, and 50′s too.

    We recently had an intern who at 20 didn’t know much about popular culture.

    This became apparent to myself and the other over 40′s in the unit.

  6. #6 Rusty Knob
    August 24, 2007

    So you’d guess their sliderule skills are a bit thin?

    (I was born before Truman* was elected.)

    ———————————————————
    * Harry S Truman, not the character in the movie The Truman Show

  7. #7 Zuska
    August 25, 2007

    Speak for yourself, Adrienne. I think women’s studies has its problems (any academic major does) but I learned some of my sharpest critical thinking skills in my women’s studies courses. To the extent that women’s studies is excessively focused on cultural studies I might agree with you about the “lightweight” part but that’s not true of everything that’s done in women’s studies everywhere in every department in the entire U.S.

  8. #8 Karen
    August 25, 2007

    Okay, I’m a member of the class of ’11, and I’ve definitely rolled down a car window. Not lately, granted, and it was my grandma’s car, but I still rolled it down. But then, I don’t have a Myspace and I don’t really text all that much, so I’m a freak.

  9. #9 Chris
    August 26, 2007

    “They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.”

    Really? My department has an unusually large number of female academics, and that would barely be true of us.

    “The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.”

    There was a “web” when they were born, but it wasn’t worldwide. New Zealand, for instance, only got an international internet connection in 1992 (one of the ftp servers at my old uni still used to tell you that its international bandwidth was by satellite and expensive, when you logged in).

    Nice try, guys, how about you actually open a history book or talk to some “yoof” before you write the next list? I’m ten years older than the class of 2011, and some of that stuff is true of me.

  10. #10 Lab Cat
    August 28, 2007

    I dispute #15 and 50. The writers of the Mindset List have obviously never been to France and need to read up some recent Russian social history. It still isn’t a multi-party state.

    I own a car that you have to roll down the windows – it is a 1999 Saturn, so they are 10 years a head on that one.

    And #60 about the teachers in the classroom depends, of course, what they are majoring in.

  11. #11 Zuska
    August 28, 2007

    That list must have been put together by a bunch of humanities folks. That “equal numbers of female and male professors” would not have gotten by an engineer working on the list.

    Clearly I didn’t read the whole list or you know I’d have commented on that…thanks, readers!

  12. #12 Malyze
    September 2, 2007

    These lists are fun to read, even if they can’t really describe such a large group of people equally well. Personally I would changed #43 to “They have never heard the term ‘latchkey kid’ before and would use wikipedia to find out what it means.”

    You’re completely right about the humanities part, just look at their bios.

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