Beloit College has been developing a list each year to remind their faculty about the world its students have grown up in.
Here is a sampling of its list for the Class of 2009:
They are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up.
Tianamen Square means nothing to them.
Bottle caps have always been screw off and plastic.
Atari predates them, as do vinyl albums.
Jay Leno has always been on the Tonight Show.
Snowboarding has always been a popular winter pastime.
Money put in their savings account the year they were born earned almost 7% interest.
For daily caffeine emergencies, Starbucks has always been around the corner.
They have no idea who J.R. was, and don't care who shot him.
The Titanic was FOUND? They thought we always knew where it was.
There are plenty of other items on the list to make one feel a bit...well, old. After all, the Class of 2009 was mostly born in 1987 (the year I graduated from high school). If this isn't enough for you to shake your head over, you can also see previous lists by following this link.
I did go back and read the list for the class of 2008, as it represents the sophs who will be walking our halls in another week and a half. Mind you, there is a bit of a difference as the list was developed for the graduating class of university students in 2008, not high school students. I guess I really need a list for the class of 2012 if I want to truly think about the mindset of our sophs...but I suspect that list would be even more frightening.
These lists are a good reminder to me of why I need to spend time explaining some things---and not assume that they are part of the students' consciousness. It's hard for me to accept this age gap. It's not because I picture myself as young and hip or because I can't face growing older. I think (in part) it's because it's hard to fathom that some things have been part of my life for so long. Could Rogaine really have been on the market all this time? Alan Greenspan doing his thing? Bill and Ted on their excellent adventure? The other part of my disbelief comes from just being in this business. It is the nature of the profession to have your life stand still while students pass through your world. It is hard to believe that things have changed when we are still doing the same things.
Perhaps all of this is just a good reminder to "be here now"...to look around and consider what is happening. I have a feeling that the next 18 years may also pass in the blink of an eye. I'll be looking forward to reading Beloit's list then.