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.”
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.
1. What motivates you to work in co-ops?
2. Do people disagree with you?
3. How did your childhood influence you working in co-ops?
4. Have you helped people around the world?
5. How do you feel helping people?
6. How have you helped local people?
7. Why did you join Tower Hamlets Co-op Development Agency?
8. How easy is it to set-up a co-op?
9. Why do you support Fairtrade?
10. How did you get to where you are?
11. What qualifications do you need to work for a co-op?
12. What advice would you give to children who want to set-up a co-op?
13. Do you like working in a co-op?
14. Group picture with Gregory Cohn.
Justice and Conflict - remembering Janus Korczak and his children as part of Holocaust Memorial Day
Janus Korczak is an adopted name to avoid anti-semitic descrimination in Poland before WW2. He was a doctor, specialising in children, and worked with orphans, assisting in summer camps and then having built an orphanage in Warsaw. He developed the orphanage into a community based on children's rights and participation. He wrote children's books, did weekly radio broadcasts, and represented children in criminal courts. He won a national Polish medal for his work. The Nazis moved his orphanage into the Ghetto and then, eventually transported him and the children to the death camp at Treblinka.
His work and writings reflects the values of New Ideals in Education, sharing their inspirations and goals. He said 'In 50 years every school' will have a children's court and school council.
On 26th January 2017 George Green's School students lead a day of workshops exploring justice using Korczak's life and work; and comparing it with the modern day meetings of A.S.Neill's Summerhill School.
These downloadable materials are here for you to use to repeat the workshops or adapt them to your own children and events. By remembering Korczak and his children we are creating a cultural awareness that will empower children to build on their work.
We encourage you to use the materials, and to contact us for further help or advice.
Alexander Bloom and St Georges-in-the-East; a state democratic school
John Biggs, directly elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets is interviewed by George Green's students as part of the launch of the New Ideals in Education projects held in the Town Hall.
New School Project
School project started at George Green's School, Tower Hamlets training children about rights and participation using a framework of New Ideals in Education history and case studies. The team of school councillors met with Prof Michael Fielding and the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, to learn about local democracy, and the most democratic state school in England. St George's in the East was a democratic and co-operative school run by Alexander Bloom. It was A.S.Neill's favourite state school, he thought they took it as far as it could go in the state sector.
The children did a co-operative learning exercise looking at the methods Bloom used to make a school with some 300 children let each child have a voice and a democratic say. They discussed how these ways might be relevant to their school.
The Mayor handed every child a children's rights handbook published by Children's Rights Alliance for England, and part funded by the A.S.Neil Summerhill Trust.
These downloadable materials are here for you to use to repeat the training day or adapt them to your own children and events.