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A Co-Operative College-1912 Paper

A Co-Operative College-1912 Paper

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Published by Sebestyén György
A historical document on the Co-operative College.
A historical document on the Co-operative College.

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Published by: Sebestyén György on Feb 09, 2011
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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
 
associate. We learn more-often very unconsciously - and we learn more easily bypersonal intercourse than by poring over books. Personal intercourse must occupyan important place in any rightly-conceived educational system; and the possibility ofhaving this intercourse adds to the advantages of the college I am suggesting andthe scheme I am outlining. We can all increase our knowledge by sharing what wehave. Few better examples of the benefits of co-operation could be given than this;and no place could be - more fitting for the application of such a beneficentco-operative principle than a co-operative college. This willingness to give as well asget should characterise the students who passed through the college: it is the spiritwhich the college should strive to cultivate and which its atmosphere might beexpected to create.But the college should stand for more than the acquisition of knowledge, Knowledge,without enthusiasm for its application in the great issues of life, is like a flame withlittle light or heat. The success of men and great causes comes from inspiration andenthusiasm as well as from knowledge; and, surely, no more favourable groundcould be found for the development of this enthusiasm than the fellowship of menbrought together under conditions such as the college could provide. The spirit offraternity and fellowship which we might expect the college to produce would givestrength, faith, and encouragement in the fight in the common cause, and these,reinforced by knowledge, could know no failure. In short, the college should create aburning desire for social justice, inspire a willingness to work for it and provide theknowledge how best to attain it.Our aim should be to provide education in its widest sense: Education for life,education which would bring into the lives of our students (and through them manyothers) some of the light and hope and joy which we believe to be the commonheritage of man.Our motto should be knowledge through service for service. We should recognise atonce that ignorance and indifference are hindrances to progress; whilst, hand inhand, knowledge and enthusiasm for truth and righteousness can conquer much.One's faith in the college is based on the possibility of inspiring our students to desireboth.The college could well be the inspirer of a revival in co-operative faith and of anextension movement in co-operative education such as the country has not seensince the days of the co-operative missionaries. How much we might gain if, throughthis intercourse and co-operative effort in attaining educational ideals, we could dotthe country with ex-students, enthusiastic for co-operative education and thepropagation of co-operative ideals! Besides providing opportunities for co-operatorsto get a liberal education in history, literature, economics, &c., in the college itself,why should we not also have our own Co-operative University Extension Lectures,thus carrying some of the benefits of the college to those who could not enter it?
Training of Teachers.
The college would also provide a training ground for our teachers. Classes inCo-operation, Industrial History, Economics, Book-keeping, &c., are increasing in

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