Sunday, 25 April 2010

Mickey Mouse

Coincidences: Mária Hári, Goethe and Walt Disney

Two days ago Conductive World mentioned Minnie Mouse, the female companion of Mickey Mouse:

I have never previously heard her name mentioned in relation to Conductive Education, but what do I know? Mickey Mouse, however, may be met often in this context.

Mickey Mouse pejorative

Mickey Mouse the animated cartoon character originated in the United States, though he is known around the world. Amongst English-speakers his name has a further meaning.
Mickey Mouse is a slang expression meaning small-time, amateurish or trivial. In the UK and Ireland, it also means poor quality or counterfeit.... In the United States armed forces, actions that produce good looks, but have little practical use (such as the specific manner of making beds in basic training or the polishing of brass fittings on board ship) are commonly referred to as 'Mickey Mouse work'.  In schools a 'Mickey Mouse course' or 'Mickey Mouse major' is a class or college major where very little effort is necessary in order to attain a good grade (especially an A) and/or one where the subject matter of such a class is not of any importance in the labor market... In the beginning of the 1980s, then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once called the European Parliament a 'Mickey Mouse parliament', meaning a discussion club without influence.
In Conductive Education the term may be heard used to refer to services, organisations, training, qualifications, publications etc. that manifest any or all such attributes. It is not a respectful description.


I do not know whether the term 'Mickey Mouse' is similarly used in other languages. Mária Hári's asked me the meaning of this English expression, having heard it used to describe a particular interpretation of Conductive Education that she very much disliked. She thought the explanation highly amusing, and told me that the equivalent Hungarian expression would be hokusz pokusz.

Exactly a year before yesterday's Minnie Mouse posting, to the day, Conductive World published a rather-too-long item on 'magic' in Conductive Education, in which I remarked upon Mária's analogy of Goethe's Sorcerer's Apprentice (der Zauberlehrling) to describe such practice, and drew attention to Walt Disney's coincidental linking of this with Mickey Mouse (the character) in his film Fantasia:

Great teaching material! I think that it was Becky Featherstone's mum who had came up with an old video tape for me to use for this purpose. Nowadays, of course, the clip is much more accessible, wanting no more than a click on YouTube to call it into life:

Too late to share this with Mária, I am afraid. Pity. She would have loved it!


Sutton, A. (2009) Conductive Education: it's magic, Conductive World, 23 April

Sutton, A. (2010) Minnie Mouse might understand, Conductive World, 23 April

I am afraid that I did not get round to completing a second posting on magic – on black magic. I must do so some time. Meanwhile I am left to reflect upon this magical coincidence of dates!

By the way, the URL for the Sorcerer's Apprentice given previosly now flags up 'due to copy right claim by Disney... etc. the video has been removed from YouTube'. There are of course embargo-busting 'mirror sites' and the URL for this Fantasia clip given above is one of these. Enjoy, while you can! And if you go to YouTube and find that Disney has got round to blocking this one, just search for Mickey Mouse sorcerer's apprentice whether find further public-spirited sanctions-busters have stepped into the breech with other ones.

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