by Nancy McCammon-Hansen
We hear much these days about the generations: we “Boomers”, Gen X, Gen Y, Millenials, etc. But to put these designations in context, we need to understand what life has been like for generations, i.e. what do people in those groups consider the norm and what has always been in their world that wasn’t in yours?
The Mindset List harkens back to 1997 when workers at Beloit College Institutional Research created lists summarizing the world view of persons of various ages. They wanted to catalog what had “always” or “never” been true for students graduating from high school in a particular year. A great book entitled “The Mindset Lists of American History” can give you specifics, but here we’ll present just a few items from each generation named in the book and suggest that this can be a great conversation starter as the family gathers together over the holidays. It is amazing how one generation can vary from the next.
You can also check out the Mindset website at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset or find them on Facebook.
Read on to see how things have changed…and how some things just keep on keepin’ on (that’s for those of you who are “boomers”).
If you graduated from high school in 1898:
*You had a one in 10 chance of being a high school graduate.
*Typewriters were making business letters and other documents completed with perfect penmanship obsolete.
*Boys were told “women’s suffrage may lead to immoral ticket-splitting and political independent”.
If you graduated from high school in 1918:
*Teddy Roosevelt made “bully” a good thing.
*Politicians advocated for national health care without success.
*Young women could never have too small a waist.
If you graduated from high school in 1931:
*Americans had always complained about paying income tax.
*You have been assured that tuberculosis is close to being wiped out.
*The divorce rate has climbed to one in five.
If you graduated from high school in 1944:
*Movies had always “talked”.
*Newspapers worried about declining circulation due to radio.
*A car in every garage was the American dream.
If you graduated from high school in 1957:
*You had never seen “a business cycle allowed to run its course without the government taking into account its impact on human lives”.
*Your father had registered for the draft.
*You knew the first “Time” man of the year was Adolf Hitler.
*You learned how to “duck and cover” in case of a nuclear attack.
*You took your “Wham-O Flying Saucer” aka Frisbee to college with you.
If you graduated from high school in 1970:
*The flag has had 50 stars since second grade.
*Cancer and smoking have always been linked.
*You had a zip code beginning at age 11.
*Not all Weathermen dealt with weather and fire hoses in the South weren’t always used to fight fires.
*You saw astronauts return from the moon.
*Johnny Carson has always been the king of late night.
*Most of the time, Beatles has been spelled with an “a”.
If you graduated from high school in 1983:
*You never had to worry about the draft.
*The major social issues of your lifetime have always involved women.
*Your grandparents always had Medicare.
*Saturday Night Live is a late night institution
*You grew up with the prediction that the ”country would soon have national health care as a solution to soaring costs and inadequate coverage”.
If you graduated from high school in 1996:
*ABC has always aired 20/20
*Your school has always observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day
*Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo have been on your radar as turtles longer than you’ve known them as artists
*Some of your better known philosophers were Miss Piggy, Mr. Rogers, Dr. Huxtable and Yoda
*You’ve watched wars and riots in real time
*You’ve always known of Elvis impersonators but not the real Elvis
*Schools have agonized over testing, vouchers and book banning
If you graduated from high school in 2009:
*You know what texting is
*You identify more with websites than states or religion
*You’re in the first generation that doesn’t remember the Berlin Wall
*Memory isn’t just part of the human brain any more
*Chairmen are now chairpersons