Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Student Nurse

I mentioned the issue of shoes-off in homes in conversation today. It was with a student mental health nurse who is working in our service.

I brought up the subject after talking a bit about my experiences in Japan. She was rather surprised at the idea of removing shoes in the hairdressers, as you would do in Japan, and was not keen on that idea. However, she didn't like people wearing shoes in her apartment and usually asked visitors to remove their shoes. She did admit to forgetting to remove her own sometimes though!

This student was black. It does seem like a lot of black people do prefer shoes-off in their homes. This seems true of African British, some Afro-Carribean British and African Americans, though I'm not sure how much of a norm it is among those ethnic groupings.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Shoeless Leanring Spaces

Professor Stephen Heppell has a lot to say about educational environments. He thinks that shoeless classrooms or schools are a good idea:

Shoeless Learning Spaces

He raises some reasons why they are a good idea:

- the children seem simply to behave better - perhaps it becomes more like home, or for some there is something quite sacred about taking shoes off. The noise is quieter, gentler as children circulate;
- carpets are much cleaner - and children are much more willing to sit on floors - less furniture makes for a less crowded space too;
- teachers do not end up arguing about the "right kind" of shoes ("no trainers!" - - "but sir, it's not a trainer!!")

Swedish Language Blog: Eye Contact and Shoeless Feet in Sweden

Swedish Language Blog: Eye Contact and Shoeless Feet in Sweden

'Learning Swedish, or any language really, also means learning a bit about the culture. Whether it is finding out more about the politics of a country or understanding the dinner habits, as you grow more comfortable with a language, it becomes more important to also grow comfortable with the culture. Or at least understand that culture. Not too long after I moved back to the US from Sweden, I wrote Swedish Cultural Exchange and discussed a few of the different cultural things I brought back with me. Taking my shoes off whenever I enter someone’s home is one of the things that is most obvious to me.'

Everyday Green: Taking Off Your Shoes for a Greener, Cleaner Home

Everyday Green: Taking Off Your Shoes for a Greener, Cleaner Home

'Think of all the different surfaces you walk on getting to and from work or even just running a single errand. On any given day you probably tread on pavement, dirt, grass, and the grimy floors of public buildings. When you return home the soles of your shoes carry in not just dirt, but several pollutants and allergens as well.

A regular pair of shoes, after just 14 days of wear, hosts a slew of bacteria, including E. coli. In the largest study of its kind, the California State Department of Public Health found an average of 22 pesticides in the dust of homes studied. Another study found that coal tar, a carcinogen used in products like driveway sealant, is tracked into homes from driveways and parking lots. And even though it's been removed from paint and gasoline, lead is still remarkably prevalent in the environment and can be tracked inside (along with mercury and other heavy metals) on people's shoes. The buildup of pollutants is even greater in homes with carpeting because carpet traps pollutants and is usually not cleaned well enough and often enough to prevent buildup.'