The fact that children in Japan help to clean their own classrooms and schools is back in the news. That is nothing new though, as they have been doing so for many years. It is a tradition called o-soji (cleaning).
According to Fino Menezes, author of the online article Should Children Clean Their Own Schools? Japan Thinks So, Japanese children are better for it. How? “They are learning to respect their surroundings. They are learning that it’s better not to make a mess if you are the one who has to clean it up.”
Children spend about 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week, and then a longer time at the end of each semester cleaning. Often, students from higher grades assist students from the lower grades. As a result, young children are being mentored and older children are teaching younger ones. The cleaning is done to fun music and the children are happy and smiling doing the tasks.
According to Donald Ash, an American who teaches in Japan, in his website article Huh? Japanese Kids Clean Their Classrooms?!?, he was very surprised to see this tradition in practice. Coming from the public school system in Georgia, he never cleaned at the school except if it was part of a school club project. The common thinking was “Let the janitors handle it.” But, once he was a teacher in Japan, he was awe struck by the children so willingly cleaning. He comments that even the most difficult students gladly cleaned.
At the end of his article Mr. Ash asks: “Do you think it could ever happen at your school (in the US)?” What do you think?