One of the great joys of being part of the international co-operative movement is that one lifetime is far too short a time to know every form of co-operative action around the world. New experiences come along with a wonderful regularity.
I had a great example of that last week when I visited Sir Thomas Boughey High School & Co-operative Business College near Stoke-on-Trent. It is one of the pioneering Co-operative Trust schools developed thanks to the work of the Co-operative College. I expected to find its structure to be co-operative and exciting; it was. School membership was open to parents, learners, staff and the community. But even more exciting was the learning going on there.
Its view of co-operation was drawn from around the world. It captured the richness of co-operative action from all parts of the globe, not just a traditional UK perspective. It was rooted in co-operative values, which had been the focus at the schools even before the co-operative structure. Many decades ago I was part of the group of co-operators that would run co-operative projects in schools and dream of what could be if it became a whole school activity. At Sir Thomas Boughey I saw that dream becoming reality.
If one lifetime isn’t long enough, but the early start that the learners at the school are taking will give them a head start on the rest of of us in understanding the wonderful diversity of co-operation around the world.