Professors Face Growing Culture Shock

(U-WIRE) BATON ROUGE, La. – For most Louisiana State University students, Iraq has always been a problem, Ctrl + Alt + Del is as basic as ‘ABC,’ Paul Newman has always made salad dressing and directory assistance has never been free. These are just a few examples of items found on the sixth annual “Beloit College Mindset List,” which tries to bridge the communication gap between professors and students. The list is distributed to professors and staff members at Beloit College in Wisconsin. It is designed to give them an understanding of what terms and events incoming freshmen can relate to. William Bankston, an LSU sociology professor, says the communication gap between professors and students is a result of two different age groups trying to discuss topics. As a consequence, neither has any idea of what the other is talking about, Bankston says. And while there is no list like this distributed on the LSU campus, some students and teachers understand how it could be helpful. Louis Day, a LSU mass communication professor, says he sometimes runs into communication gaps with students. Day says the most common example of this is when he refers to the Vietnam War during class discussions. “I was in Vietnam,” Day says. “And I think some students believe the Vietnam War was really the same thing as the War Between the States — it’s ancient history to a lot of them.” Day says he sometimes wonders if his examples are getting through to the students because of their untimeliness. Some students agree with Day’s assessment that there is somewhat of a communication gap between teachers and students. Jennifer Milazzo, an English sophomore, says she believes the communication gap is a result of the generation gap between most students and professors. Lehman says a good solution to the problem could lay in more communication. “Let the students ask more questions that they would like to know about,” Lehman says. Once a lesson is taught, teachers could let students ask questions about the topic using current events in the place of old examples, he says. The Beloit list consists of 50 items that incoming freshmen can relate with. Day says he has an idea for an addition to the list such as the fact that gas stations used to always be full serve, and not slf serve. Also included in the list are items that separate students’ mindsets from the mindsets of their instructors. Among the items on that list are, “For many of them today, it’s all about the ‘bling, bling’, they know who the ‘heroes in a half shell’ are and they can still sing the rap chorus to the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ and the theme song from ‘Duck Tales.'” Day says he understands how the “Beloit College Mindset List” could be beneficial to instructors. “These items collectively remind us that we are dealing with a generation that cannot relate to some of the things that we relate to,” Day says. “If we are using the terms by way of examples then we have to remember that some students may not be able to relate to them entirely.”