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Archive for August 23rd, 2009

As discussed by Jenn Lena and others, Beloit College has released its “Mindset List*” for the incoming class of 2013, born largely in 1991.   I’m sure that this list is intended to shock the greying professors who can’t imagine a world in which Planet Hollywood didn’t exist, but it does basically nothing for me (maybe it will have some effect in 2028 when Beloit tells me that the entering class of 2032 has never lived in a world in which Michael Jackson was alive).  To me, thinking about the way things have changed for those born in 1991 is best accomplished by thinking about my own 1991 self.  For example, in 1991:

  • Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten were released but I was too busy listening to Vanilla Ice to notice.
  • My family did not have a computer.
  • I knew only one person whose family had a cell phone, but it was called a “car phone” because that’s where it was kept and, once in a great while, used.
  • I spent my free time playing Super Nintendo games that included Sim City, ancestor of The Sims.
  • Summer was equated with freedom, not the chance to catch up on work.

The fact that these experiences seem to have happened so long ago (indeed, nearly 2/3 of my life have passed since then) is more striking to me than most of the junk that Beloit came up with (how many incoming freshmen are really aware that members of Congress cannot give themselves midterm raises, or that they once could?).  Maybe Beloit should just release a statement every year saying “Think about your life in 19XX.  Now turn on a pop radio station, sign in to Facebook, and watch the number one movie in the country, because none of that means anything to your students.”

*Incidentally, the font used for the “Mindset List” heading looks like something I might have thought was cool in 1991.

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