Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Why My Students Make Me Feel Old

Every year Beloit College publishes a mindset list to familiarize professors with what their freshman know and "to slow the rapid onset of 'hardening of the references,' in the classroom." All I know is that it makes me feel really old. Heck, I don't even understand some of the references on the list!

Here are few of the items, seen from the point of view of the typical college freshman this year:
  • Ricky Nelson, Richard Burton, Samantha Smith, Laura Ashley, Orson Welles, Karen Ann Quinlin, Benigno Aquino, and the U.S. Football League have always been dead.
  • Paul Newman has always made salad dressing.
  • Computers have always fit in their backpacks.
  • Stores have always had scanners at the checkout.
  • There have never been dress codes in restaurants.
  • They have always been able to make photocopies at home.
  • They have always been able to make phone calls from planes.
  • Yuppies are almost as old as hippies.
  • There has always been Lean Cuisine.
  • Bert and Ernie are old enough to be their parents.
Scary, eh? Not only do I have nothing in common with my students, most of them don't read for pleasure, or out of curiosity. I learned this when, while trying to get to know my students better, I asked them to name their favorite book or series, and most couldn't. The did have favorite movies; unfortunately they were crap like Dumb and Dumber. Thank God for Jo Rowling. Some of them now read more, thanks to Harry Potter.

No wonder they have a hard time relating to their college instructors, even the younger ones. Ah well, at least my friends and colleagues are old, too, so we can understand each other. :)

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