Fairtrade and Co-ops
The United Nations estimates that the lives of over half the world’s population have been improved because of co-operative businesses. They help to empower women and young people around the world. The UN calls them ‘schools of democracy’. They are based on human rights and allow people to take democratic control of business and work.
The following resources were used during the training day at the Town Hall for Fairtrade Fortnight 2017. A team of George Green’s students, who are their Charity Champions, were trained to run the day, and facilitated the programme with nearly thirty year seven children, who were mainly class representatives. The aim is to develop an international school building project with Nepal using social enterprise.
Co-ops, as part of social enterprise, were seen by New Ideals in Education as empowering children and creating community projects and businesses in which the children planned, budgeted, managed, made decisions and worked together. The French inspector saw co-operation, the formation of groups, the working together of children, learning from each other, as a necessary part of schooling developing a learning community.
“The forming of groups may take time. The children gain invaluable experience in learning how to recognize those they can work with. There are no rules as to the number of children in each group (in practice, an average of six) or as to the exact membership of the groups (there may always be changes). Each group has a part of the classroom to itself and this becomes, as it were, its own ‘house’, even if there is no actual physical barrier separating it from another group’s ‘house’. During their work, the groups soon sets out to collect plants and animals, and it is a good idea to let them have their own pigeon-holes along the walls.”
Description of Cousinet’s method from ‘COUSINET (1881–1973)’ by Louis Raillon, ©UNESCO: International Bureau of Education, 2001
Useful Information and Further Activities for Teachers
Interview on Co-ops with Gregory Cohn
[Director of Tower Hamlets Co-op Development Agency]
As part of their training day at Tower Hamlets Town Hall the George Green’s Year 7 Class representatives interviewed the Director of Tower Hamlets Co-op Development Agency, Gregory Cohn. The students spent 20 minutes doing group work to create a set of questions, lead by the older students. The interview was held in the Council meeting chamber and was chaired by two George Green’s Charity Champion students.
This is the first part of a planned library of experts interviewed by children to share with others to help them express their rights. New Ideals in Education believed in the child as researcher, and the researchers sharing their work with others.