Young, old need meeting of the minds

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, August 26, 2012

I’m feeling older every day.

     That’s my mindset as this 43-year-old looks over the Mindset List for the college Class of 2016.

     The list, according to the Associated Press, has been compiled every year since 1998 by two officials at Beloit College in southeastern Wisconsin. The 75-item list is a “nonscientific compilation (that) is meant to remind teachers that college freshmen, born mostly in 1994, see the world in a much different way.”

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     In other words, it’s a statement that, for many young people, “that’s the way it’s always been.” Or perhaps there are things that they just have not experienced.

     No. 48, “They grew up, somehow, without the benefits of ‘Romper Room.'” speaks to that point. Say “Magic Mirror” followed by a string of “I see (various children’s names)” to today’s young people and I have no doubt a quizzical look will be your reply.

      The items on the list, which can be seen at, touch on a wide range of differences in experiences between today’s young people and those of yesteryear who, like me, are today’s adults. Some deal with positive societal changes, others negative and then others are treated as matter of fact developments.

     For today’s college freshmen, women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles (No. 23) and largely have been responsible to handling foreign relations for the United States (No. 12). I think all would agree those are positive developments in the course of history.

     I don’t want to accept No. 3, as it represents a sad commentary on society today.

     “The Biblical sources of terms such as ‘Forbidden Fruit,’ ‘The writing on the wall,’ ‘Good Samaritan,’ and ‘The Promised Land’ are unknown to most of them.” The spiritual aspects of Bible familiarity aside, the belief that young people don’t even know where the terms came from is troubling.

     Items related to sports and pop culture are addressed in many places on the list.

     Take item No. 14 for instance. “There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.”

     Gee, I’ve been alive when both the Rams and the Raiders played in Los Angeles.

     No. 73, “Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes,” has a personal resonance with me. Cal Ripken Jr., one of my all-time favorite players, now holds that record at 2,632 consecutive games played.

     While the list’s authors contend young people (No. 68) watch television “everywhere but on a television,” show references are sprinkled throughout the list.

     Item No. 55 maintains that “Mr. Burns has replaced J.R. Ewing as the most shot-at man on American television.”

     Since I no longer watch “The Simpsons,” I didn’t even know Homer’s boss had been shot, much less that anyone thinks it’s more significant than the shooting of the infamous “Dallas” villain. By the way, the first season just ended and I’m already ready for TNT’s new version of “Dallas” to come back on the air.

     Differences from generation to generation are illustrated in item No. 4: “Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes ‘American Royalty.'”

     The Jacksons? Royalty? Um, no. And I wasn’t alive when the Kennedys were considered royalty.

     Although the list aims to encourage professors to find modern points of reference with today’s college freshmen, I would hope the students make some effort to understand that the world did not start when they were born. All that came before is important as well and contributed in some way to the foundation they are standing upon today.

     That sentiment is not as dire as “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But if young and old alike can find common ground – either in terms of today or those of yesteryear – then the future can be better for all.

     That’s all for now.

     Write to Managing Editor Matthew Coleman at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602, or send e-mail to