Cleaning the Classroom

Ryosuke Komori

DIVER | Kyoto

Ryosuke is a publisher who has been based in Seattle. He was born in Kyoto.

When the last class of the day is over, students get up from their seats and put their chairs on their desks. Then, the students break into small groups, boisterously grab dust cloths and brooms, and proceed to clean the whole school. They clean the bathrooms and the hallways too. This scene is ingrained in the Japanese psyche. This daily ritual is called tokuiku and is considered part of a child’s education. By cleaning the classrooms and bathrooms that they use, students learn about the importance of cleaning, gain respect for how hard it is and understand that objects should be taken care of.

Of course, kids being kids, there are more than a few occasions when teachers need to discipline students who have transformed their brooms into swords and begun an epic battle in the hallways.

There was a news report awhile back about how Japanese soccer fans cleaned their section of the stadium after a World Cup match. This seems like it comes from all those days of tokuiku, cleaning up after school.

When people see video of the students cleaning their school, some people praise the custom while others say school should focus on education and not child labor. What do you think?

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