There are defining phrases, songs, books, poems, etc. that provide almost-instant identification of age cohorts. Princess Phone ("It's little...It's lovely...It lights"), to my peers, means the pink phone all teenage girls wanted. Parents didn't really have princess phones and no self-respecting male would even use one.
For my students, it means...well, nothing. No point of reference whatsoever. Same with rotary dial, party line (not the political reference), or "one ringie-dingie, two ringie-dingie". The contextual meaning, the history, and the related life experiences--such as having grandparents whose calls were sometimes 'overheard' on their party line--are lost in the translation.
People under the age of 45 are slightly more likely to be familiar with the children's nursery rhyme from which the title for this blog post was taken. The rhyme came to mind when I was thinking about the full-time working students who have been attending MBA classes for two years...on Saturdays. I've joined them twice this summer for an 8:00 a.m. class, to which many of them have to fly or drive the night before. And most have an afternoon class, making a full 8-5 day of lecture and homework.
These students are working hard, sacrificing family time and leisure activities for the MBA they hope will improve their career opportunities, make them 'more competitive,' or simply keep them employed. In many ways, these students live and work in a world far different from the one of their parents and their grandparents. The phones are different, but the work ethic seems refreshingly similar.