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Budget cuts: Is it our culture that is possible the root cause of the problem?

As of late, I have been hearing on the radio that they’re cutting the budget for janitors in our schools and now students are protesting because janitorial services are not keeping the place clean enough and so on.

On the one hand, I feel for them.

They are doing more work and being under greater pressure to clean and perform at a higher efficiency than may be possible (not sure if this is truly the case or not, but let’s assume yes).

Not only that, all students have a right to study and work in a clean environment that is safe, and janitors help that.

On the other hand, I wonder our culture is the problem.

Let’s think about this for a second.

In Japan you have a culture where it’s actually the students who clean the school.

They wash the blackboards, sweep the floors, empty the trash cans, and clean up the hallways.

As a result, they are less likely to spray graffiti, drop litter in the hallways, make a mess, use their skateboards inside, and generally create a disgusting environment because inevitably, they will be the ones who will have to clean up after themselves.

I am not saying that Canada should move to this model entirely, but I wonder if students would be as likely to litter and be as dirty as I’ve seen some of them be if they were the ones who had to spend hours scrubbing it off the walls.

I know that without a doubt, when Baby Bun gets older, if he makes a mess, he is going to damn well clean it. There will be none of this long-suffering parental slavery that goes on where the kids make a terrible mess and then run away giggling to go play or do something else while their parents have to bend down on hands and knees to clean up.

I understand that he might be too young to do it but at a certain point, he will be old enough. If he’s old enough to clean himself, he’s old enough to wipe a spill off the ground.

The same goes for society — if we were the ones going around picking up all this litter, scraping gum off the sidewalks, cleaning graffiti off the walls… would we be more apt to stop it when we see it and to be proactive rather than reactive?

Just a thought.


  • Michelle

    I think that you make a very important point. I started school in Japan and my mom STILL remarks on what a good learning experience it was for me in terms of learning life skills, etc. I returned to Japan as an adult and did a community service project with preschoolers-they shared their meal with me. It was amazing.

  • Yoko

    Question: Assuming Japanese students of both sexes are required to clean their school, at what stage does cleaning become a women-only responsibility? Last I heard, adult Japanese males were not known for taking an active part in housework, nor for being “less likely to (…) drop litter (…), make a mess, (…) and generally create a disgusting environment”… We need to find a way to make the childhood learned behaviour stick! Oh, and one more thing: if such an approach was ever considered for North American schools, I suspect that we would see an exponential growth in the number of students affected by dust allergy.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Oh you’re right. What a great point. I think then it culturally becomes a “a woman stops working and takes care of the home, while the man works”.. that attitude prevails long after a woman becomes a working housewife as well.

      *LAUGH*.. dust allergy. Good one. They can wear masks like I do as I have a dust allergy, myself.

  • Vivien

    Baby bun’s net worth!

  • Petrish @ Debt Free Martini

    People take janitors jobs for granted, but they are a big part of creating a harmonious environment in a school. No one wants to study in a nasty, nasty place. The idea of american children cleaning up their own schools is great, but I can just see many parents protesting thinking that their child is too good for those types of chores.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      But why? Why is it beneath children to take care of the place that they are educated in? Even at home, children should also be taught to take care of the house they live in.

  • Kathy

    This was once the way it was in the U.S. also. Usually a kid who misbehaved in class was made to stay after school and clean the chalk boards. (Do schools have black boards any more?) But then, culture dictated that the poor darlings couldn’t be forced to do menial labor as punishment because it would stunt their emotional growth etc.. Or the teachers would be responsible for cleaning their own room. But the unions put a stop to that. As a society, we now expect the government to do everything for us. Cradle to grave. In actuality, a lot of that doesn’t need to be done. I bet most kids don’t really care about the janitors, it is just something they seized upon to protest.

  • Lila

    Yea I think it’s wise to teach kids once their motor skills are developed that if you make a mess you clean it up. It’s not hard.

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