Saturday, December 02, 2006

The School Day- After Lunch

Lunchtime and the noon recess have ended, and the bell announcing the start of fifth period sounds. Three days a week, the fifth class is a followed by a sixth. Five minutes after the final class ends, school cleaning begins. The students clean the school themselves. They are assigned work stations, and in brigades of 5 to 8 students, proceed to sweep, scrub, and otherwise tidy up the school. Excepting the restrooms, which are cleaned at Kido JHS by a professional cleaning firm; the equipment storage rooms, which are seldom cleaned; and the teachers' locker rooms, no corner of the school remains untouched. At some schools (Kido is not among them), the students pick up litter that has collected on the school grounds. All of this is done to the accompaniment of music. A digression is called for here. The jingle played over the PA system during cleaning time is of a genre that would seem to have been created for the express purpose of stimulating the students into a sort of cleaning frenzy. Fast paced and instrumental, the tune is not something one would hear on the radio, or find on a compilation at the local CD shop, or hear anywhere outside of the particular school at which it is played. I have now taught at 12 junior high schools in Niigata City, and no two have played the same cleaning tune. Consider that, and ponder the tremendous business opportunities that await the producers of such recordings. Their cleaning done, the brigades hold short meetings with their supervising teacher to evaluate work performance. After that, it's back to the classroom for the afternoon homeroom meeting. This concluded, it is time for club activities, to participate in which is the primary reason some students attend school at all. A final note: you may be wondering whether there are no janitors at Japanese schools. Janitors there are none, but rather handymen, who maintain the school grounds and make simple repairs. They tend to keep to themselves, being provided their own comfortable room just inside the entrance to the school.

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