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The Mindset List…

Speaking of incoming students, here's Ellen's second grade classroom in St. Paul, MN. Almost all her incoming little ones are immigrant children.

Beloit College in Wisconsin does a cool thing every year that earns it tons of media coverage; it publishes a Mindset List to remind faculty and staff that incoming freshman have a different take on the world. Profs, therefore, need to take the chiefly age-related differences into account as they teach lest students go glassy-eyed.  The hope is to keep classes relevant and therefore stimulating.

For example, don’t inject Dan Quayle into lectures because students won’t know (or care) who he is.  Rodney King?  Who’s that?  Omit from technology classes that phones once had cords.  Few profs realize few students are in the dark about U.S.-Soviet cold war tensions (how do you stay mad at a nation when you lived side by side in the space station?).   Kids view the computers we used as museum relics.  Or that Clint Eastwood was once best known as Dirty Harry, not a director renown these days for artistic films.  Students are used to lickety split in TV, media, social contact.  In other words, they have bypassed all that was familiar to the rest of us.  What’s old will remain old.

But I found one item on the list to be reassuring.  Jessica, an incoming frosh, disagreed that her generation never writes in longhand.  “When I have time, I like writing letters to friends and family,” she said.  “It’s just a bit more personal.  And yes, I write in cursive.”  Hey, kid, your grade for the year: A+.


As it’s Wednesday, we’ll pull this letter from the long-ago archieves when the only aim was to keep Ellen and Reid entertained and occupied briefly while they were in college.

August 22, 2004

EB and Reid:

We had a great weekend.  You guys weren’t here!  Get it?  You guys weren’t here.

In a couple of weeks, people will ask us ‘what artistic or thought-provoking movies have you seen lately?  Sense and Sensability?  Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress?  The Living Sea?”  “No,” we’ll respond, “the only one we’ve seen is March of the Penguins.”  That’s the best we can do is watch a film where furry little birds trudge 70 miles to huddle in -80 degree temperatures and the three year old RIGHT NEXT TO US says ‘what’s wrong with the bird, mommy’ or ‘I haveta go pee-pee’?  Hey kid, so hold it already.

Actually, we spent the rest of the weekend moaning about how sore our hips were from the backpacking trip.  Geez, we’re just getting old.  And when I mention that to your mom she jumps all over me, “You’re only as old as you think you are.”  Yeah, well I may think I’m young but my hips think I’m old and decrepit.

Ellen, skip this paragraph because it doesn’t pertain to you.  Reid, Nick ________ went to one of his summer school finals ON THE WRONG DAY and subsequently failed his conditional status situation at Iowa State.  Now it’s on to DMACC for at least the next semester.  Make sure you have a calendar.

Nonnie was supposed to come over for dinner last night but she opted out because they were having a good meal over at the retirement home.  Our voice mail for her shouldn’t have told her we were having chicken tenders and fries.  I’ll have to try that again.

Went on the Harley for about 100 yesterday, and 300 on Thursday.  Bike’s runnin’ good but still can’t attach my bags until the parts come in.  A vandal stepped on my rear pegs and broke them off, and the bags share the same attachments.  Reid, pawned one of your medium sized Harley shirts off on Louis across the street.  He was in Hog Heaven.  The _______’s went through Sturgis while on vacation and all bought rally t-shirts.

We went to Wakonda for a pool party Friday night, and when the DJ started, your mom was insistent that we dance, so we danced.  There are two things I can’t stand to do.  One is sing, the other is dance.  So when we left, I’m literally wobbling up the stairs and the ________ come up to see if I’ve had too much to drink and do we need a cab.  That’s how bad the ankles have gotten.  That’s when she started all over again on the ‘you’re only as old…’  Can it, honey.

Well, that’s about enough pontification for now.  EB, you’d better draft a note to parents alerting them to the dangers of sticking tongues on cold playground bars or that ‘we strongly advise parents to encourage their children to walk on the playground because running on loose gravel could result in injuries’.


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Filed under Adult Children, College, Contact, Correspondence, Technology, Writing to college students