My alma mater, Beloit College, has been publishing a mindset list for the last eleven years. The mindset list is always an interesting reminder of the cultural touchstones that divide generations. The list contains reminders that the incoming class of Freshman, most of whom this year will be 18 years old, have never known or experienced. For example, for these students:
- Martha Stewart Living has always been setting the style.
- Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
- IBM has never made typewriters.
- The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.
I found it interesting, for example, to know that IBM actually did stop making typewriters in 1990 (the cutoff year for this mindset list). And that these kids won’t understand the transcendental accomplishment of the Hubble any more than those of my generation can understand how our grandparents felt when they first saw airplanes.
There is some trivia in the list as well: For these students,
- The Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback.*
- They have never known life without Seinfeld references from a show about “nothing.”
The list provides guidance for the professors and instructors at the college, so they can understand how the world occurs for their new students. It’s always fun to read.
*At least that will change now. Having spent time with my cheese-head** family over the summer, I can attest to the wearying hourly updates on Brett Favre and the Packers decision processes.
**I am a cheese-head, I use the term only with great affection.