Latrine duty at Japanese schools
Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, February 7, 2007
THE JAPANESE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM and its schools often get bad press in Western countries, particularly the United States. I’ve always thought this ironic, considering the state of the American educational system and its schools (and I speak as an American). Perhaps this attitude runs in the family; my sister was so dismayed at the quality of her local school system that she home schooled all four of her children. (Home schoolers seem to have the image of being religious conservatives, but my sister is neither particularly religious nor conservative.)
My wife and I don’t have any children, but if I did, I would rather have them go to a Japanese primary school than one in the U.S. There’s a lot to be said in favor of the things Japanese schools do, and I was reminded of that by this recent short article in the Nishinippon Shimbun. The article is in Japanese and not online, so I’ll provide a quick translation. It starts from here:
Students and Faculty Clean Lavatories Together
Tobu Junior High School in Taku, Saga Prefecture, held a unique class to inculcate a sense of public service among the students by having them clean the school’s lavatories. All the students and faculty members participated.
The school’s position is that everyone at the school uses the lavatories. There is a tendency to neglect their cleaning, however, because people consider them to be “dirty”. The school wants to clean the students’ public spirit by having them clean the lavatories. That’s why they launched a project to have the students come in and clean all 14 of the school’s lavatories in one day.
The students come to school dressed in their gym clothes, remove their shoes and socks, and begin cleaning with their bare hands, using cleanser and sponges. They devoted themselves to the task for about two sweaty hours.
First year student Fukakawa Ayako (13) remarked, “I hated the idea at first, but I steeled myself and worked really hard at it. Some friends even boosted me up on their shoulders and I cleaned the ceilings.”
Another first year student, Miyahara Haruna (13), said, “It was the first time I had ever cleaned the inside of a toilet. I discovered how much fun it was to help clean the school.”
End of translation
Note in particular the first student’s comments. She hated the idea, but she resolved to do a good job, and even found a way to have fun with her friends and give the place an exceptionally good cleaning.
I can’t begin to describe how typical that is of the Japanese (particularly the way she expressed it in Japanese). Being in an environment created by people with that attitude is one of the reasons I’m glad I live here.
Readers may recall articles describing the brutalities some Japanese teachers inflict on their students. Yes, these “teachers” exist, but they are not anywhere as numerous as the publicity might lead you to think.
Besides, somewhere on my bookshelf is a report from a few years ago footnoted to an unimpeachable source stating that 5% of all crime in the United States is committed on school grounds.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2007 at 12:01 am and is filed under Education, Social trends. Tagged: Japan, Saga. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.