The studio’s education arm, Disney English, plans to open in Brazil next. Disney English already runs 11 English-language schools in China, and plans to expand to 148 within five years. Several are based in Shanghai, where Disney is building its next theme park. It recently opened its first school in Beijing. Disney English plans to teach English to 150,000 children a year by 2105, according to the Financial Times.
English is taught using Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and The Little Mermaid. Oh, and those in charge are called “cast members” not teachers.
First, Disney worked to extend copyright law so that Mickey Mouse doesn’t fall into the public domain. Then it tried to trademark the Princess Aurora character from a common fairy-tale, Sleeping Beauty. Am I alone in finding the Mouse House inculcating its next generation of overseas consumers in this way vaguely disquieting? It means Disney is changing the way our children think even in school. It reminds me of that moment in Super Size Me when more kids recognise the flash card of Ronald McDonald than George Washington.