A Co-operative College.
Educational Needs and Provisions; Past and Present.
Education has been recognised as essential to co- operative progress ever since thecommencement of the movement. The Pioneers were so impressed with itsimportance that they set aside a portion of their profits for educational work, andestablished classes in literary and scientific subjects. Other societies followed theirexample. The good work they did was recognised, and the demand for educationalfacilities increased so much, and became so obviously a public duty, that publicauthorities took over the work which co-operative societies and others had beendoing. Some societies established libraries and newsrooms; but as these also arenow provided by public bodies, co-operative activity in this direction also has beencurtailed, though small specialised libraries are, and should still be, provided. Thesechanges have set free co-operative funds, which can now be well applied for theextension of facilities for the higher education of co-operators in other ways, and,particularly, for education in liberal subjects. No longer does it devolve upon us totrain men as chemists or mechanics, but we have still the duty of training men andwomen as units in the co-operative army, able to work intelligently, individually and ingroups, for the realisation of the co-operative ideal.
A Co-operative College.
These reflections give point to the suggestion that the time is ripe for theestablishment of a Co-operative College which would serve as an educational centrefor the movement. The co-operative movement depending for its existence as asocial force upon the appreciation of ideals by a well-educated democracy, requiressuch an institution; and, with its extensive and powerful membership, is well able tosupport one. It is the object of this paper to give some reasons for the establishmentof the college, to indicate some of the methods of working such an institution, and tosuggest some of the advantages we may expect to gain from it.
Its place in the Movement.
Such a college would be the headquarters of the educational life of the movement;and its academic and ethical centre. Through the contact of its staff with thestudents, who would come from and return to all parts of the United Kingdom, thecollege would prove a strong force for the wide-spread dissemination of theco-operative spirit; whilst the common life of the college would do much to developthe feeling of common interests and sympathy between co-operators, and to keepalive the idealism which inspired the founders, but which at times seems likely to beswamped. I set great store on the influence of this common life; It is a practicalapplication of the principles of co-operation. The education of life is derived notmerely from books and formal lectures; it comes from the whole of the influenceswhich mould our characters and make us what we are. Among these influencesnone is more powerful than that exercised upon us by those with whom we daily