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. The Mindset List website at www.beloit.edu/mindset, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.
The 75-point list is pretty fun to read through. I have included a few that I found interesting of funny.
1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.
7. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.
11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.
14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.
18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.
32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.
33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.
39. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.
46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.
57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.
58. Beethoven has always been a dog.
70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.
71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.
Certainly, when dealing with culturally relevant classroom illustrations, each of these issues are perhaps very helpful. I must admit, it is somewhat shocking how much different my “mindset” is from the class of 2014. However, there are many far more substantial issues that have not budged, though we ignore them, which have far more profound impact on the educational process.
1. The trinitarian God of the Bible exists.
2. All men are born dead in sin and continue in sin and therefore are guilty before God.
3. Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, was born to Mary, grew up, fulfilled the law, and died for the sins of his people.
4. Man’s only hope, security, and forgiveness are found in Jesus Christ.
5. God pours out his Spirit on believers to be their helper and guide.
6. There is truth.
7. God is sovereign and directs all things–past, present, and future, for his glory.
8. God designed things to function in a certain way, and all things have been grossly affected by the fall.
If we are going to take the stance that such trivial things as Beethoven being first recognized as a dog rather than a great composer affect education, perhaps we would do good to give some thought to the affect our understanding of much more basic things has on education.