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Hundred 2018
How can cleaning a school at the end of the day help students learn?

Cleaning Tradition

Marker Japan
Students who help clean and tidy classrooms at the end of the day learn about responsibility and gain an understanding of life skills.

What is Cleaning Tradition?

Shiori Tokuyama
“Working on the toolkit made me realize how much the cleaning activity is beneficial for our whole education. Thank you for giving me the chance!”

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.



Read more ›
Intended Outcomes
6 - 18
Age Group
Resources Needed
All this innovation needs is a teacher, cloths, brooms, dustpans, and other cleaning equipment. The process is easy to implement and takes only a few days to put in place.
HundrED Criteria
This is reinventing cleaning for school children using tips and hints that will turn them into passionate and responsible students. Although cleaning in school is an old tradition in Japan, modern educational philosophy and method is required to support students today.
Students become aware of cleanliness and begin to keep the school tidy all the time. They start to pick up trash once it is noticed and arrange desks and messy classrooms during the day. The development of respecting others and communal space is the main aim.
This innovation has already spread across Asian countries such as the Philippines and India, while similar activities are developing in Africa as well.

See this innovation in action.


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Student Participation
Making students responsible for their own mess.
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Training staff members
Train staff members to understand this cleaning exercise as an informal way to talk with students.
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Choosing a place and time
Where to clean, when, and how long?
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Supplying the necessary resources
Learn how you clean and what materials you use.
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Opportunities for student leadership
Help your teachers and student leaders encourage others during the process.
Read more

Connect with the innovator

Shiori Tokuyama
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