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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are you out of touch? It's easy to do these days

I said to my son the other day, "You sound like a broken record."

His response, which came with a dumbfounded look, was: "What's a broken record."

Hmmm. I Had never thought he might not know. That's a good one.

The reason I mention this is because an AP News writer Dinesh Ramde, "Wear wristwatch? Use e-mail? Not for Class of '14," writes that kids entering high school today would have no reason to know what a record is.

He writes, "For students entering college this fall, e-mail is too slow, phones have never had cords and the computers they played with as kids are now in museums.

"The Class of 2014 thinks of Clint Eastwood more as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry urging punks to 'go ahead, make my day.' Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch."

Beloit College creates a list each year called the "Beloit College Mindset List" to remind teachers what to elude to and what not to elude to in order to stay in touch with today's kids.

"The list," she writes, "is meant to remind teachers that cultural references familiar to them might draw blank stares from college freshmen born mostly in 1992."

"Of course," she adds, "it can also have the unintended consequence of making people feel old."

That's about how I felt when my son asked, "I was looking at grandmas records you have in the basement, and I don't recognize any of those music groups."

Of course the groups he was referring to were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Eagles. Yet they were just flash in the pan bands. Right?

Well, not really. Yet why would an 11-year-old heading into the 7th grade know about those "classic" groups anyway.

A few months ago I went into a local music shop looking for a Brian Adam's Greatest Hits album, one my wife inadvertently threw away, and I couldn't find it anywhere. So I asked the clerk, who said:

"Classics and oldies are in the discount rack by the door."

"Oh." I said, feeling insulted. I turned to leave, and, lo and behold, there was Brian Adams, a bit of a film of dust over the top of the package, sitting in a bin with a bright orange sign overhead, "Classic tunes: 50% off."

The good news was the tunes I wanted were at a discount price. The bad news was that I was made aware how old and out of touch I was with my son.

Which also reminds me that when our phone service was out last week I went to my neighbor's house with my son to borrow a phone. I needed a phone because my wife was expecting, and she was working. If she was to go into labor she was going to call me.

So my neighbor hands me a tiny phone with a bunch of buttons on it. "You can use this," she said.

After I looked at this science fiction phone (as far as I was concerned) for a minute, pressing a button with no results, my son ripped it from my grasp saying, "Let me do that for you."

Yes, there comes a time when you realize you ARE out of touch.

In the 1980s the computer came along, and the microwave, and VCRs that were difficult to explain to our grandparents. Yet now every year an amalgamate of these new innovations comes out, and it's to the point you have to pick and choose which one you take the time to learn.

So try explaining all of these to your grandparents, or even your parents, or even yourself.

To me facebook is hard to figure out, yet I use it. This blog was hard to figure out, and still is. Yet I'm still here.

Yet I don't think it was always this way. From Caesar to George Washington there were never any changes, and so it is said that Caesar could have communicated with Washington (had he lived that long) quite easily.

Yet due to industrial changes Washington would have had a tough time communicating with Lincoln, and yet Lincoln would have had a tough time communicating with Teddy Roosevelt because changes were rolling around faster and faster.

Now we have adults, like me at 40, who have trouble keeping in touch with their own children, like my 11-year-old son. Here we have electronic games, computer updates yearly, telephone evolutions going on each year if not daily, and it's hard to keep up with it all.

So one can see why things like the Beloit College Mindset List might come in handy for not just teachers but anyone who communicates with kids, including moms, and even dads like me.

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