Monday, September 04, 2006

What is our mindset?

When I have a little bit of spare time, I like to catch up on my blog reading. I find it so interesting to read what others have to say; it's really like being able to peek into so many different people's minds and hear their thoughts, and sometimes rants.

Today I read a about the Beloit College annual "Mindset List."

From the introduction by its creators (and hopefully a better explanation of what the list is than I can give you):

...the list is a general statement of the experiences and events that shaped the view of the world maintained by entering students. We take a risk in some cases of making general statements, particularly given that our students at Beloit come from almost every state and dozens of nations. We inevitably find someone who still has an 8-track tape player or whose television station still signs off with the national anthem. Some of these events occurred some years after they were born, but they are important events in shaping the mindset of the entering students. Our effort is to identify a worldview of 18 year-olds in the fall of 2006.

So what's so interesting about it? Well, the list makes statements about these young people (most of them around the ages of the counselors I worked with at camp this summer...think of your own teenagers and college students) and about the world in which they grew up, the state of their thinking that they take with them into college...

But I wonder, as I read over the list, whether this is really the best use of the time of these professors. Perhaps they should be, instead of thinking about what these students didn't have in their young lives (a knowledge and fear of the Soviet Union, hearing things "rung up" on a cash register, live music in lobbies, vehicles other than minivans, smoking on airlines, food on get the idea) - perhaps they should be focusing in some way on what the goals of educating these young people should be, and how these "shortcomings" in their lives (and things they do have, also on the list, like instant messaging, wireless communications, Google, faux fur, "big box stores") will affect them as they grow up. What made our parents into activists and so many of our young people into acceptors? What is the differences between the generation that experienced Vietnam and the generation that is experiencing the War on Terror? The world they live in is so very different from the world these professors live in -- in some ways so very different than the world I live in, and I feel my age is probably closer to the age of these young people than to the professors -- shouldn't there be some kind of dialogue that goes along with the Mindset List? I'd be so curious as to how the freshmen at Beloit College and other institutions would respond to the list themselves. How do you respond?

What is your mindset? Can you construct a similar list for your own generation?

(In a sense, reading over this list as well as previous year's lists was definitely like a walk down nostalgia lane. These students are considerably younger than I, yet much of what they experienced or did not experience is familiar to me as well....)

P.S. If you are interested in checking out the world of blogs, I recommend the following method...I pick a topic of interest to me and find a blog that I like (you can search for blogs at amongst other blog-creating sites) and that has a long list of links to other blogs. Then I sort through them until I find ones that are worth reading on a regular basis. Sometimes this list is long, sometimes I end up with only a few "favorites" in any given topic. I try not to be too obsessive about this -- but I do like to keep up with one or two blogs at a case you're interested in what tickles my fancy these days, I read blogs from Israel, miscellaneous Jewish blogs, blogs on babies and parenthood, and most oddly, perhaps, food blogs. My favorite of these is a blog I found called -- a stay-at-home mom who makes her kid these incredible lunches each day. After school let out, she slowed down her blogging and I'm not sure what she's doing this year for his lunches, but it was fun while it lasted. Each day, a new lunch! Crazy but so fun and cool. There are tons of weird and wonderful things out there in the elusive world of interneting....

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