What is Cleaning Tradition?
Shiori Tokuyama, Teacher at St. Margarets Elementary School Japan
Cleaning Tradition is a way to get students involved in cleaning classrooms after school. It helps to promote students understanding of life skills such as personal responsibility. Aimed at children ages 6-18, all students can participate in making their school a tidier place.
Classrooms are busy places with lots of people doing many different things. Naturally, classrooms can look very messy by the end of the day. There is research to suggests that children in tidy classrooms tend to be happier than those in messy ones. However, when students are the ones largely creating the mess it is natural that they ought to be the ones to clean it up.
In Japan, there is a tradition that the students themselves clean their schools. For just 15 minutes at the end of the day, students use brooms, vaccuums, and cloths to clean the classrooms, bathrooms, and other school spaces. The tradition is based on the 17th century philosophy that a clear mind comes from keeping clean and clear surroundings. It is also a way of showing gratitude to people and objects that enable learning. Others believe that if students are responsible for their own mess, they are less likely to make it in the first place and will show respect for their surroundings.
The time spent cleaning afer school is relaxing and offers students the opportunity to talk with friends and engage with students of other ages. Students of all ages help each other, allowing older students to act as mentors and younger children to find role models.
Teachers have observed how their bond with students has strengthened as they can interact with them in an relaxed context. This allows teachers to fully understand how well students get on with one another. It also provides an opportunity for teachers to chat with students and to get to know them outside of the formal, learning environment.