My 11-year-old son asked me the other night to help him with a homework assignment. It would be easy, he assured me. All I had to do was answer a few questions.
“When you were my age,” he asked, “what were some of your activities?”
“I played baseball,” I replied. “I was in Scouts. I played the trombone.”
“What was your favorite subject in school?”
“What was your least favorite subject?”
This is easy, I thought.
“What were some of the things that were happening in the world?”
And just like that, I was done.
Or was I?
I began to think about how much the world has changed in the past 27 years.
There were no cell phones, no websites and no CDs or DVDs when I was in fifth grade. Only 25 percent of U.S. households had a microwave oven. And cars — at least some of them — ran on leaded gasoline.
Change is inevitable, and it seems to be coming at us faster than ever.
To that end, two men at Beloit College in Wisconsin created what they called a “mindset list” in 1998. The list, which is updated yearly, was created as a reminder to faculty members to be aware of dated references when interacting with students.
Thousands of area high school students will graduate in the coming weeks, and many of them will be bound for college in August. According to the current Beloit College Mindset List (www.beloit.edu/mindset), the following are true for them:
• Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
• Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
• Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.
• Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.
• Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.
• Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
• DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.
• “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.
• Secondhand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.
• Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.
• The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.
• Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.
• Toothpaste tubes have always stood on their caps.
• Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.
• Beethoven has always been a good name for a dog.
• Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
I can’t help but wonder what will appear on this list in 2018, the year my son will be graduating from high school. And how, years later, he might answer his son’s questions about what he remembers from the final days of his preteen years.
Honestly, I have no idea.
But I bet it won’t include the Orioles winning the World Series.
Joel Huffer is an editor at The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7796 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.