I was reading this story about an American teacher placed on administrative leave for having an unwritten rule requiring students to clean the classroom toilet with paper towels and bleach. Well, there’s definitely a serious culture gap here.
In Japan, students are responsible for cleaning toilets on a daily basis. Apparently, in the interests of not bringing upon chemical accidents, this cleaning is done with water, not with cleaning solutions. I doubt that this is the whole story, as there’s probably people who can be brought in to do serious jobs with serious chemicals (with zero student involvement), but students are otherwise heavily involved in the public sanitation of schools.
The principle here is that it’s their school, and they should be personally and collectively responsible for its maintenance. They’re not passive tourists; they’re part of the institution. I find the attitude commendable, though again, without being at one to know all details of all things, I don’t want to assume anything about the full story. Suffice to say the attitude alone is very different.
Back to this American example, the teacher may have had the right idea in some sense, but first of all, it wasn’t approved policy… and more importantly, using “paper towels and a cleaner” – and that cleaner being bleach – was an open invitation for trouble.
As it turns out, the two year policy was exposed because one student had an allergy to bleach that caused his hands to have an allergic reaction. (Using paper towels without the protection of gloves invites such things. I wouldn’t recommend it for people without known allergies, for that matter.)
So naturally his mother was like, you shouldn’t be doing that – that should be the custodian! (People once called janitors in another lifetime.)
So again, it’s not necessarily that the principle wasn’t something a lot of people would wish was more broadly applied; it’s that no rule ought to be applied in an absolute manner, without exceptions, and good intentions can go very awry. – J