MARTY RUSSELL: BTW, what’s a typewriter and who’s Billy Graham?

By Marty Russell

The Beloit College Mindset List came out Tuesday, that yearly gauge of where this year’s college freshmen are coming from and that annual reminder of just how old the rest of us are getting. The list can come in handy for those attempting to teach these youngsters by reminding us of what they do and don’t know, like the time I had a student who insisted that the Vietnam war took place between World I and World War II or that the War of 1812 took place in the 1940s.
Of course for those of us of a certain age (i.e. anyone over 18) the list can also be pretty scary when we think about all the things we experienced that the Class of 2016 never will. Most of them were born in 1994 meaning, for them, JFK, Richard Nixon, Elvis and John Lennon have always been dead. And who the heck is Phyllis Diller?
Here’s a sampling of some of the findings of this year’s Beloit list:
They have never seen an airplane “ticket.” Likewise, they’ve never carried luggage, only rolled it.
Maintaining relations between the United States and the rest of the world has always been a woman’s job at the State Department and women have always been fighter pilots and astronauts.
There has always been email and I’ll wager none of them has ever “licked” a postage stamp. They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.
Slavery has always been unconstitutional in Mississippi and Southern Baptists have always been apologizing for supporting it in the first place. Likewise, there have always been black students at Ole Miss. (Mississippi didn’t ratify the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery until the year after the Class of 2016 was born, in 1995).
“The Twilight Zone” involves vampires, not Rod Serling.
Of course, one of the biggest differences between the older generation and the Class of 2016 involves digital devices. Most have never had to “process” a roll of film and wait for the prints to be delivered. Most have no use for radios or TV sets since most of their music and video is delivered over their phones. Most get their news from “The Daily Show” and not daily evening national newscasts (or, sadly, newspapers).
Interestingly enough, because most of them go through life with ear “buds” in their ears, most will enter college with some degree of hearing loss.
Most have never seen a set of encyclopedias, just Wikipedia. There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
Two-thirds of all independent bookstores in the U.S. have closed during their lifetimes and they are more likely to read an e-book than an actual printed one.
So those are just some of the 75 items on this year’s Beloit list that we have to take into consideration when dealing with the younger generation. It’s enough to make you want to say, “Pass the Geritol.” Geri-what?
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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