Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Beloit Mindset List, 2018 edition

It’s back. This year’s list looks to my eyes like a particularly tasteless and clueless array of hastily selected cultural fragments. Tasteless: “Yet another blessing of digital technology: They have never had to hide their dirty magazines under the bed.” Clueless: “‘Salon’ has always been an online magazine.”

Oh, to be eighteen, and to feel personally insulted by this list. And to be able then to ask: “What’s ‘Salon’? And shouldn’t that be in italics anyway?”

The Beloit Mindset List has been annoying me since I became aware of it. As in wrote in 2010 in this post,

What bothers me about the Beloit list involves some unspoken assumptions about reality and young adults. The list reads like a nightmare-version of the proposition that begins Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921): “Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist.” “The world is all that is the case” — all that is the case, that is, in the life-experience of a hypothetical eighteen-year-old American student. . . . The Beloit list seems to suggest that if it hasn’t happened during your lifetime, well, it can’t really be real (witness the weirdly Orwellian statement that “Czechoslovakia has never existed”), or, at best, that you cannot be expected to know or care about it. Even the ugly word mindset reinforces that implication: “the established set of attitudes held by someone,” says the Oxford American Dictionary. The OAD illustrates that meaning with a sentence about being stuck.
Related reading
Re: the Beloit Mindset List
The Beloit Mindset List, 2011
The Beloit Mindset List, again
Beloit Mindset List, 2034 edition
The Beloit Mindset List, 2017 edition

comments: 5

Fresca said...

26. Hell has always been associated less with torment and more with nothingness.

I guess this isn't intended for Bob Jones.

JuliaR said...

I had never heard of this list until today. It brings me back to my last comment here, that many students today are incurious. But then I got to thinking that maybe t'was ever thus. How many students of any generation look beyond what they need to (to pass a course of whatever is the goal)?

When I was the TA for PHIL2900 ('Propaganda' see http://calendar.carleton.ca/undergrad/courses/PHIL/ ) last year, I sat in on almost all the classes and when the professor mentioned something I didn't know much about, I looked it up on my iPad in class, while he was talking about it. I found this to be a delightful enhancement of the learning experience! I wondered what my student life would have been like in 1975, if I had been able to do such a thing! I noticed that none of the few students who bothered to show up did the same thing (it was an 8:30am class, the bane of people's existence.) Then, I thought that probably none of my cohort back in '75 would have looked things up either, had they the opportunity. So maybe it is the human condition, that people only do the minimum, and it is only keeners like us, who enjoy the entire learning experience (which is why we are still in school.)

So what do we do, as educators, to engage more students (we'll never get them all) and show them the joy of learning?

Michael Leddy said...

Keener? I plead guilty. As an undergrad, I kept a page in the back of my notebooks for writing down every book recommended or mentioned in class. The sad thing is that now it’s easier than ever to satisfy curiosity about what’s unfamiliar.

I sometimes try to incite curiosity by being cryptic (suggesting a word to look up, no explanation why) but more often by just trying to be a good example.

JuliaR said...

Yes! You have it. Lead by example. Thanks! I try to do that also. And in other things, in life, like picking up trash. It's surprising how successful even that can be.

I did not mean 'keener' as a pejorative, but I think you know that. Too bad it has taken on that connotation. I used the term sometimes when I was teaching until a student said she disliked it and I said, "it was a compliment!" After that, I would call myself a keener and suggest that students could be one too, and then show them how.

What a great idea, to write down all the references to things mentioned in class. Having the instant access, via wifi, is fun. But it's not as thorough is looking it up after class, when you have time and quiet.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, I knew you didn’t.

I looked up keener: the OED is no help, but Google’s top result (no source identified) says it’s an informal Canadian usage: “a person who is who is extremely eager, zealous, or enthusiastic.” I didn’t know that.