NPR: What the Beloit Mindset really tells us


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Let's rethink this

Linda Holmes writes on NPR's Monkey See blog that the Beloit College Mindset List says more about the mindset of the authors than it does about each year's crop of freshmen.

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(In this year's list, the authors say students see Clint Eastwood as a director of thoughtful movies -- not as an action star.)

She starts with a gripe that as a student in 1993 she wasn't very familiar with the same celebrities the authors say students don't know today. She also assures that students do know that Beethoven was a famous composer, not a film dog. (See No. 58 on the list.)

This year's list, she says, contains a number of points that preoccupied the authors the very first year -- such as student's lack of worry over a nuclear threat, who they know on The Tonight Show, and how they've always had access to a million channels on cable TV.

Twelve years apart, and the two lists share that much? If the list is to demonstrate how rapidly generations change, then why is it preoccupied with the same things? Now they don't worry about nuclear war. Now Johnny Carson isn't on. Now Dallas isn't on. Now they have so many channels. And those same things come back, over and over, as every new class is redefined not by its mindset, but by what is not its mindset: by the fact that it still doesn't have Johnny Carson and constant fears of nuclear war.

Her message:

Sure, just like Neil deGrasse Tyson once told me, you want to know a little about what they care about. But at the same time, don't put too much artificial distance between yourself and the class of 2014.