Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The 2011 Mindset of Faculty List (Born Before 1980)

Every year Beloit College publishes its "Mindset List", a list of cultural touchstones supposedly designed to help us oldsters who teach college "relate" to today's incoming freshmen (1st years, as we call them here at UGA).

Unless you're just really old or completely brain-dead, the list has always struck me with a demeaning, borderline ageist, "duh" factor. From this year's 2011 list:

  1. What Berlin wall?
  2. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
  3. Rush Limbaugh and the “Dittoheads” have always been lambasting liberals.
  4. They never “rolled down” a car window.
  5. Michael Moore has always been angry and funny.
  6. They may confuse the Keating Five with a rock group.
  7. They have grown up with bottled water.
  8. General Motors has always been working on an electric car.
  9. Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
  10. Pete Rose has never played baseball.
  11. Rap music has always been mainstream.
  12. Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!
  13. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
Really? I'm in my 40's and I barely remember Pete Rose playing, car windows you rolled down, and "rap music" not being mainstream (you can tell the list was written by one of the ancients).

And what's with "they've grown up with bottled water"? A quick google search (I know, right? "You know how to use the 'net, old dude?") revealed that Saratoga Springs sold its first bottled water in 1820. I can't remember a time before bottled water either.

And another out-of-left-field favorite:
Katie Couric has always had screen cred.
[the sound of crickets chirping]

Anyway, Bruce Krajewski has published a hilarious antidote in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. that is a primer for freshmen (er, "1st years") to get to know us old folks born before 1980 who are going to be teaching you for the next five years (er, four). Highlights from some of our mindsets:
1. The faculty members freshmen will encounter are likely teaching more and larger classes and doing more "service" than ever before at the same pay or less as faculty were three or four years ago.
4. Faculty members who have been teaching for more than a decade are most likely indifferent to the Kardashians, celebrity-wannabe housewives, desperate or otherwise, from any city or county on either coast, especially the ones from New Jersey.
5. Those same faculty members are regarded by many parents, administrators, and state legislators as lazy, inefficient, and unaccountable. If it were not for all the work the faculty members must do, they would have the time to live down to those expectations.
6. The faculty members freshmen will encounter in the classroom are probably untenured and working part time, with many employed at more than one institution and feeling loyalty to no employer.
8. Faculty members born before 1980 said "Wii" to express the euphoria they felt as children when sledding down a hill.

9. Faculty members born before 1980 rarely feel a need to respond immediately to anything and have particularly "procrastinaty" reactions to messages that students label "urgent."

13. Faculty members born before 1980 grew up during a time when "like" represented the beginning of a simile, rather than a piece of verbal confetti.

14. Many faculty members prefer Mae to Kanye West.

15. Faculty members who have been teaching for more than a decade remember when C was an average grade students received in courses, because it represented an ancient concept called "satisfactory."

16. Faculty members who have been teaching for more than a decade do not refer to students as "customers," and to anyone as a "stakeholder" (not even Buffy, if those faculty members even know who Buffy is).

17. Faculty members born before 1980 remember when the word "chancellor" referred to a short German person with a mustache. (In a way, it usually still does.)

18. Freshmen will encounter some faculty members who can recollect a time when sports coaches were other faculty members who were not receiving million-dollar salaries. (See here what the world of student athletes has become.)

19. The same faculty members can recall when stadiums were built without sky boxes for indulged alumni, and when tailgating meant that you were following too closely behind someone while driving on the highway, all the while neither talking on a cellphone nor texting.

20. We (i.e., the "they" the Beloit people use to refer to anyone older who is not "you" freshmen) never used libraries as restaurants or coffee shops. We faced books; we did not facebook.

Outstanding. Excuse me now while I go reminisce about the time before email, when cellphones were the size of cinder blocks, the microwave oven was "one of those trends that will never catch on," and Ronald Reagan was just a movie actor.

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