How Times Have Changed

Posted on August 17, 2010

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The 2014 Beloit College Mindset List is out.  What is the Beloit College Mindset List?

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

 Basically, the purpose of the list is to give college instructors a reference point on where the students are “coming from.”  Using the list as a guide, professors can get a better perspective on the world from the student’s point of view, which,  perhaps, will help them relate to their students more effectively.  What do they say about the class of 2014?

The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since “digital” has always been in the cultural DNA, they’ve never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat. 

To the class of 2014, Clint Eastwood is better known as a Hollywood director, not a star of  “spaghetti westerns” as I first came to know of him.  While the list is a tool for instructors to help them relate to their students, as an average person, I find it more a reminder of how things have changed so rapidly over the years.  In my opinion, here are some of the more pronounced changes:

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

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.

19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.

31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.

32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.

44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.

51.  Food has always been irradiated.

58. Beethoven has always been a dog.

65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

There are 75 items on the list in all.  In order to see the rest, click on the link at the top of the post.

Posted in: Education, Society