Monday, December 06, 2010

'elf and safety'

There was an article about Finnish schools in the Guardian today. In the last year I have seen quite a few articles about the Finnish education system. They usually point out how much better their record of success is compared to British schools and how different some of their methods are. Invariably they mention the fact that Finnish school children are shoeless in the classroom.

It does seem that quite a few British schools are moving in the Finnish direction of having pupils remove their shoes. I can imagine health and safety might slow this trend down a bit, however.

I do get the impression that on the continent, there is not the same rigorous culture of 'elf and safety' that we have in the United Kingdom. In some European countries you get nurses and supermarket staff wearing open-toed sandals, something that would not be permitted in the UK.

I am not one of those right-wing bores who collect and share stories about 'elf and safety gone mad.' I find those people rather tiresome. A lot of these stories that do the rounds have been exaggerated or even made up by the press. On the other hand, one can imagine that an obsession with health and safety can sometimes cause a lot of misery.

I hope health and safety concerns don't prevent more British schools from adopting the very sensible Finnish practice of shoes-off in the classroom. It protects floors and carpets paid for by the taxpayer, teaches children about respect and creates a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.


richyrich said...

I think I've previously said on here how when I was in primary school (after we'd moved to a new school building with carpets) we had to take our shoes off if they were muddy. If we had brought pumps with us to school we'd change into those but if we had not, we just had to be in our socks. Sometimes if it was very muddy outside, the teacher would ask to see everyone's shoes before we got into the classroom and decide if they were clean enough to keep on. If they were judged to be too dirty, they had to come off straight away and there was no arguing with that.
At secondary school, everyone, pupils and teachers had to take off their outdoor shoes if they entered the gym.

Sandro said...

In our schools, it's never been like that. As a result, schools never looked cozy, and floors never looked clean.

Bob said...

We have a maid who comes once a week to clean our house. She has a staff of three other women who help her. They have always left their shoes at the door and worked in socked feet. Today when I came in I noticed that she had slippers on. She mentioned that due to a problem with her knee her doctor told her that she needed some support for her feet so she bought herself a pair of slippers. She went on to say that she did the same for her other workers because she instituted a rule that they would now have to remove their shoes in every home that they cleaned. She felt that this would be less stressful on their legs and perhaps a bit safer.

Moderate Mouse said...

You know, it's funny. A couple of years ago when I was relatively new to the discussion one of the concerns that I had brought up about the idea of the "strictly unshod" home life was safety, mainly stubbing a toe or spilling hot liquid on one's foot. After some soul searching (and not to mention some tough love from you-know-who regarding this concern), I realized that yes, there are tasks done in the home where it usually is best to have on actual shoes in the home for safety purposes, such as moving/installing an appliance, cleaning up broken glass, and possibly anything involving powertools; but these tend to occur rarely compared to tasks like washing the dishes, cooking, sweeping the floor, etc., which generally carry a lesser risk of injury. Even if I do stub my toe, the pain lasts a few seconds at most, as has been the case with say, mashing my finger against something.

When I'm up and about at home and not in shoes(as my shoe wearing at home is limited almost entirely to when I'm about to go out and when I just got home), I generally opt for slippers than bare or stocking feet. Part of it is psychological, but part of it is because we have almost all hard floors, and being barefooted or sock-footed doesn't work for me on said floors this time of year.

Sandro said...

Isn't it natural for a cleaning lady not to spoil with her shoes what she has just cleaned?
Thank you for the contribution, Bob