Inspired by Beloit College Mindset List, here is a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of the students who will be entering my classroom this year. I was inspired to do this after reading Beloit’s most recent list and realizing that my newest students were born the year I entered high school. Talk about a wake-up call!
1. Most students were born in 1998.
2. Computers have always been able to beat humans. (Deep Blue defeated Gary Kasparov in 1996).
3. The Lion King has always been a Broadway musical, not an animated movie.
4. Mamma Mia has always been on Broadway.
5. Mother Teresa, Carl Sagan, Jonathan Larson, Princess Di, Ella Fitzgerald, Tupac Shakur, and the Notorious B.I.G. have always been dead.
6. Animal cloning has always been possible.
7. OJ Simpson has always been a suspected murder, not a football player.
8. Women’s softball has always been an Olympic event.
9. There has always been scientific evidence of life on Mars.
10. Lance Armstrong has always been a cancer survivor.
11. Hong Kong has always been independent of Great Britain.
12. Harry Potter has always been in their libraries and bookstores.
13. Pokemon has always been a part of their pop culture lives.
14. Joe Camel has never been a part of Camel advertisements.
15. America has been involved in a war in Iraq for most of their lives.
16. The Chicago Bulls have never won an NBA championship.
17. The internet has always been available in their homes.
18. Cell phones are ubiquitous in their lives and always have been.
19. Animal Kingdom has been one of Disney’s parks for as long as they can remember.
20. Woodstock was a concert that happened in 1999.
21. The Euro has been legal currency for 90% of their lives.
22. Wayne Gretzky has always been retired.
23. Their parents have used digital cameras for most of their lives.
24. The country of Zaire has never existed.
25. Rap music has always been easily heard on mainstream radio.
26. High-stakes testing has always been part of their academic lives.
27. Cable TV has always had hundreds of channels.
28. Flat-screen TVs have always been readily available to the average consumer.
29. Movies have always been available on DVD.
30. Ebay has always existed.
31. There have always been 24-hour news stations.
32. The Grateful Dead have always been broken up.
33. Woolworths has always been defunct.
34. The Simpsons has always been on TV.
35. They have always been able to google information.
36. The world population surpassed 6 billion by their third birthday.
37. They’ve been downloading music from the internet since before they entered kindergarten.
38. Many of them own their own iPods and have since they were eight or nine.
39. The Human Genome Project was completed during their lifetime.
40. Tiger Woods has always been golfing.
41. Y2K did not cause the world to end.
42. George Bush was president for most of their lives.
43. September 11th is only a vague memory for most of them, as they were not even in school yet.
44. Wikipedia has always been their go-to for research.
45. They’ve been watching American Idol for most of their lives.
46. The know who Al-Quaeda are, but have never heard of the Cold War.
47. The watched the space shuttle Columbia disintegrate upon reentering the atmosphere but only know about the Challenger disaster from history books.
48. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a governor who used to be in movies, not an actor who became governor.
49. Hurricane Katrina and the 2006 tsunami are the greatest natural disasters they have experienced. They were able to watch live, 24-hour coverage of both on their televisions and computers.
50. Most of them have their own screen names, Myspace and Facebook profiles, and email addresses.