Why I’m voting for Mickey…

Will the proposed half-GCSE Vocational Qualifications become known as Minnie-Mouse courses?


As usual the Daily Mail can be relied upon to trivialise any story about education. Although the recommendations of the recent Wolf report are clear, it is thin on explanation and exemplification of what is unsatisfactory with current vocational education courses. Simply saying some are excellent and others aren’t is not terribly helpful. And seeking the views of employers and moving towards more external assessment is something we’ve heard many times before. Reducing the number of GCSE equivalents for each course might be seen as having some merit, but mainly for reducing the validity of vocational courses within academically-based school league tables, rather than putting the needs of students first – some of whom might actually have had a better chance of finding employment at the age of 16. Now all they will end up with is a string of F and G GCSE grades which are less likely to impress potential employers than evidence of real, on-the-job experience.

And while it is true that some courses have become little more than an exercise in completing politically-correct tick-boxes, what the Daily Mail article actually reveals that much of the course content is highly relevant to working life. For example, here is a proposed list of 50 things everyone should know how to do – precious few of which are covered in the eBacc.

Meanwhile I can’t help wondering why poor old Mickey Mouse is continually associated with vocational courses? Mickey was created by Disney in 1928 as a ‘pleasant, cheerful character always trying to do the best he could’, which  sounds to me a most positive attitude towards education.  The more negative association probably started when entering the name ‘Mickey Mouse’ on a ballot paper became a way of expressing dissatisfaction with the available election candidates, i.e. that Mickey Mouse could do a better job. Around the same time the phrase ‘Taking the Mickey’ – meaning to mock or ridicule – came into usage, and although not a reference to Mickey Mouse, the two seem to have become associated.

As a result ‘Mickey Mouse’ has over time come to mean ‘small-time’ or ‘trivial’, which is curious really, because in reality Mickey Mouse is an iconic, multi-million dollar, best-selling trademark – and as such exactly the sort of approach to business we should all be striving for if we are to revive the nation’s economy. So yet again it seems to be another example of the politicians and media perpetuating the old-school myth that only high-brow academic studies are of any value, and anything vocationally or commercially orientated, or relating to popular culture, is entirely worthless.

And finally…. for those readers still without a Twitter account:  Man goes to the doctors: “Doctor I’m addicted to twitter and I don’t know what to do”….Doctor: “Sorry I don’t follow you”…

One comment on “Why I’m voting for Mickey…

  1. Today I’ve been wondering whether the term ‘soft mick’ has anything to do with soft subjects or Mickey Mouse. Probably not, it turns out. It seems the phrase may originally have referred to an Irish shoe peddler working around Accrington, East Lancashire, in the early 1900s, from the phrase “More shoes than Soft Mick”. It was also commonly used in Bradford in the 30’s. (according to the Wiktionary).

    But maybe there is a connection – after all the current education policy is a load of old cobblers…

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