What is a Cooperative School?

A cooperative school, also known as a coop school or program, can refer to two different types of education.

Older students, including those in high school or college, can complete programs that include some type of work experience. These programs are similar to those offered by a vocational school.

The schools and programs available for younger children involve some parental interaction. As a student enrolled in or considering enrolling in an educational program, you might want to learn more about these programs and the role of teachers in those programs.

High Schools and Colleges

Many people credit the idea of cooperative education as starting at the University of Cincinnati near the turn of the 20th century. These original programs focused on better preparing older students for working in mechanical and industrial jobs. Cooperative programs of this type are still available through vocational schools, high schools and community colleges. Students spend a portion of their time taking courses that apply to their future careers and a portion of their time working in the field. This provides them with the practical experience that they need to work in fields like automobile repair, computer repair, medical assisting and other fields.

For Younger Students

Another type of cooperative school is available to students at the preschool level. A parent cooperative preschool program allows several families to come together and educate their children. The parents of those kids all put in a set amount of money and hire an instructor who will work with those kids on weekdays at regularly scheduled times. Parents have the option of attending classes with their children every day, going to class a few times a week or letting the instructor have full control of the class with no involvement from the parents.

Pros and Cons for Older Students

Cooperative programs designed for older students can help them find a higher paying job immediately after leaving high school or finishing a training program. As they learn necessary job skills, employers will not need to spend time training them on the job later. These programs also allow students to learn more about different types of jobs before they dedicate themselves to spending years working in a specific career field. The downside to this type of of program is that it only trains them for working in a certain job. They may have a hard time changing careers or developing the skills needed to work in other fields.

Pros and Cons for Younger Kids

There are pros and cons associated with cooperative programs designed for younger kids too. The class sizes are extremely low, which can help foster friendships but leave kids with poor socialization skills. They may have a hard time relating with kids from outside that group once they enter elementary school or kindergarten. These programs also require that parents pay out of pocket, but many find that these programs cost less than traditional daycare does. Some parents may dislike the idea of using their own homes to teach those children too.

Cooperative education originally referred to programs that allowed high school students and older students to develop valuable job skills, but the term now includes programs for preschool kids too. While a cooperative school can provide students with skills they will use well into the future, you may want to look at those programs more carefully before deciding to work in this field.

See also: What is Montessori Education?