Calling some subjects ‘Mickey Mouse’ subjects is as unhelpful as calling other subjects pretentious.
Why do people keep calling the less academic subjects ‘Mickey Mouse’ subjects? Why does everybody have to do brilliantly at the traditional academic subjects in order not to be ridiculed? I find this very depressing and bleakly British.
It seems as if we are always looking for a category of people to ridicule. Older people talk of the shame of the sibling who was consigned to the secondary modern when another got into the grammar school. Then it was people who took CSEs (is that right?) and now it’s people doing ‘Mickey Mouse’ subjects. It’s such a narrow-minded view of education and what it’s ultimately intended to achieve.
Presumably, we want our children to go to school (unless we are mad and force them to learn from US at home!!?) because we hope they will enjoy learning exciting things about the world, socialise with peers and end up feeling that they have enormous potential to carry on learning and doing things after school, whether it’s looking after horses, styling hair or learning ancient Greek. We want them to have the opportunity to choose – don’t we?
One of my children is very cautious about academic work and frightened of being put under pressure and failing. I am sure this is my fault, but I don’t want it reinforced at school. When he was at a high-achieving state primary school I felt, every time I spoke to a teacher, that the emphasis of his learning was on what he couldn’t do. They barely mentioned what he could do and was good at, but they hounded him and me about the stuff he found extremely difficult. It would not be hard to argue a case for this approach (help where help is needed) but it was deeply demoralising all round and needlessly made my son feel a failure.
In the end we have been lucky enough to find a school that helps him with his difficulties but concentrates on his abilities and he is getting gradually more confident. He will not, however, be getting fifteen A stars in subjects like physics, chemistry and Latin. I am very much hoping he will be offered subjects he will enjoy and excel at and I couldn’t care less whether or not these subjects are included in the league table as long as his achievements are not open to either media or social ridicule.