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Gratitude is big in Japan

Over the course of every FIFA World Cup, a team emerges as a fan favourite, not so much due to their on-field performance, but rather for winning over the hearts of fans all over the world with to their amicable sportsmanship.

This year the Blue Samurai of Japan were undoubtedly that team. Not only was their great spirit evident on field through the respectful manner in which they conducted themselves, but it was perhaps exemplified even more by their off-field behavior.

They were recently lauded for leaving their dressing room spotless after their round of 16 defeat to Belgium. They even left a note saying “спасибо” (Russian for “thank you”). This great spirit didn’t stop at their players though – Japanese travelling fans were pictured cleaning up stadiums after their team’s matches.

You need to look no further than the Japanese schooling system to find the reason why the world was left in awe by the island nation.

In Japan – it’s not only encouraged that children take an active role in cleaning their classrooms – it’s expected. At a certain time every day scholars will spend time expressing pride in their environment by sweeping, scrubbing, polishing, and vacuuming their school.

Another great example of this is lunch time. It is not uncommon for school children to take turns to complete certain task at lunch time. Some days a child will be tasked with dishing up for his classmates, other days they may be tasked with cleaning up.

Not only does this cultivate a sense of pride in your environment – but it can teach children to focus on reducing the footprint they leave behind.

With the world currently buckling under the strain of world-wide wasteful behaviour, perhaps it’s time we consider implementing this in our school systems.

Rather than creating a collage about recycling – have kids share the responsibility of implementing recycling in their classroom. Rather than doing a project about water saving – actively save water in the classroom.

Rather than a change in curriculum – we need a change in culture.

And if we don’t save the world in the process – at the very least, perhaps Bafana Bafana could be fan favourites at the next World Cup.


JM Henning – Weekdays 5am – 6am Saturdays 6am – 10am Anchor, Smile 90.4FM