Pitfalls for the middle-aged academic
A few months ago I witnessed a scene in which a senior academic (not in my current or recent university) was having a conversation with four students. He was offering them some advice, and in doing so made a reference to someone called ‘Robin Day’. Now the academic concerned, and possibly you and I, know who Robin Day was (TV political commentator, the first host of the BBC programme Question Time). The students frankly had no idea and just looked blankly at him. He didn’t help himself by adding another reference to the singer Cliff Richard, whom the students did know all right, but who for them was about as modern as Monteverdi and a lot less cool.
So, if you are some 35 years older than your students but want to impress them with your knowledge of their world of ideas and celebrities, there’s a useful resource for you compiled by Beloit College in the United States called the ‘Mindset List‘, which points out how different your students’ experience of the world is from yours. You might want to have a look. And then remember that even the very hippest people of your youth are now as old as you are, or older, and no longer hip. Don’t mention your Jethro Tull albums, or that you could sing along to the Tremeloes. Unless, that is, you want to be seen as a kindly old duffer, like the professor you remember from your college days who kept talking about Glenn Miller or Matt Monro.