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Pins And Needles, Pins And Needles: Another Year, Another Revelation

Gloria MacKay contemplates how the world changes from generation to generation.

At the start of every school year I watch for The Mindset List which Beloit college in our state of Wisconsin provides for entering freshmen along with schedules and a map of the campus. I think about this list every August around the time of my birthday, not that I need a reminder I am another year older. More as an alert how circumscribed is the experience of youth but, alas, how hard it is to keep up with them.

At any rate, I'm not the only one: "The List" created in 1998 by Tom McBride, Professor of English and Humanities, and Ron Nief, emeritus Director of Public Affairs, was intended as a reminder to both students and faculty that their worlds are quite different. They point out it is the birth year of the entering students that is the most disturbing fact for most readers. "This year will come as no exception and, once again, the faculty will remain the same age as the students get younger."

This fall's entering freshmen, the Class of 2017, were generally born in 1995. The List opens with an observation: They have known only two presidents. Following are 60 examples of how their minds are set; let's browse a few.

To the class of 2017 Dean Martin, Mickey Mantle, and Jerry Garcia have always been dead. There has never been a national maximum speed on America's highways. In our nation's capitol, tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House. Spray paint has never been legally sold in Chicago.

These students were always able to get rid of their outdated toys on eBay, and for them having a chat has seldom involved talking. "Dude" has never had a negative tone. a tablet is no longer something you take in the morning, and GM (which I was taught meant General Motors) now stands for food that is Genetically Modified,

They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal.

Java has never been just a cup of coffee, Gaga has never been baby talk, and about the same time these students started to crawl, the nightly news began to track across the bottom of the television screen. Incidentally, their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents' screens grow ever larger.

The class of 2017 has never seen the Bruins at Boston Garden, the Trailblazers at Memorial Coliseum, the Supersonics in Key Arena, or the Canucks at the Pacific Coliseum. In their life time. Jurassic Park has always had rides and snack bars, not free-range triceratops and velociraptors. The Pentagon and Congress have always been absolutely shocked by reports of sexual harassment and assault in the military. The U.S. has always been trying to figure out which side to back in Middle East conflicts. And Congress has always been burdened by the requirement that they comply with the same anti-discrimination and safety laws they passed for everyone else to follow.

To this year's entering freshmen, rites of passage have more to do with having their own cell phone and Skype accounts than with getting a driver's license and car. PayPal has replaced a pen pal as a best friend on line, Bill Maher has always been politically incorrect and in their first 18 years, they have watched both the rise and the fall of Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez.

The U.S. has always imposed economic sanctions against Iran. The Celestine Prophecy has always been bringing forth a new age of spiritual insights. Smokers in California have always been searching for their special areas, which have been harder to find every year.

To college freshmen a Wiki has always been a cooperative web application rather than a shuttle bus in Hawaii. The Canadian Football League Stallions, after bidding adieu to Baltimore, have always sung Alouette in Montreal. Olestra has always had consumers worried about side effects - and the class of 2017 has always been able to plug into USB ports.

Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated. They have never really needed to go to their friend's house so they could study together. Kevin Bacon has always maintained six degrees of separation in the cinematic universe, New York's Times Square has always had a splash of the Magic Kingdom in it. There has never been a Barings Bank in England, and, of course, they have always known that there are "five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes" in a year.

Enough?

There's never enough. http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2017/

Archive?

Of course. http://themindsetlist.com

2013

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