Every year, Professors Tom McBride and Ron Nief of Beloit College put together a "Mindset List" for the entering freshmen:
For students entering college this fall, e-mail is too slow,phones have never had cords and the computers they played with as kids are now in museums.
The Class of 2014 thinks of Clint Eastwood more as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry urging punks to "go ahead, make my day." Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.
These are among the 75 items on this year's Beloit College Mindset List. The compilation, released Tuesday, is assembled each year by two officials at this private school of about 1,400 students in Beloit, Wis.
The list is meant to remind teachers that cultural references familiar to them might draw blank stares from college freshmen born mostly in 1992.
Of course, it can also have the unintended consequence of making people feel old.
Here are some examples from this year's list (for the class of 2014):
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.
3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”
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.
31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.
46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.
What? Is it too difficult to get kids to hold a pen or pencil or what?
I've read the NPR article as well, and I think that the author takes the list too seriously. The Mindset List is a fun, cute thing that Tom McBride does every year.
The whole "Beethoven is a dog" business is, well, kind of ridiculous. Maybe the author is joking about that, but I'd hope the tone of the list allows readers to set their expectations for the List.
"[The list is] not about how college students think at 18; it's about how we think at 40 and 50 and 60. It's about how we think about the markers we once drove into the ground to mark what we considered Now, and how alarming it is to note that they are farther away than they used to be."
I did learn how to write cursive, but I hardly ever use it anymore.