What would a teaching cooperative look like?

N.b this post is a rant. It was written with even less care than my usual posts and isn’t that thought through. It’s more just a thought in progress I wanted to get off my chest.

Tonight we had a KELTchat on coursebooks. Something that came up over and over again was that some teachers don’t have a huge amount of choice over if they use coursebooks. Either because they’re schools make them use coursebooks, or because their schools gave them so many teaching hours that they have no choice but to rely on coursebooks.

The thing is that if we imagine a solely profit motivated school*, it would want to use coursebooks for two reasons. Firstly because schools can hire a teacher without lots of training and they can probably teach okay using a coursebook (cf. me 18 months ago). Secondly paying teachers to sit around planning isn’t that profitable as those hours aren’t billable. If the teachers mostly teach to coursebook, they don’t need to plan as much and you can have them teach more and take more money.

*Lots of private schools, mine included, care about profit and good education, but one hears horror stories.

Teachers who want more freedom (as many in the chat did) to have more planning time and rely on coursebooks less might consider a teachers’ cooperative school. My parents are both very interested in cooperatives so I might be biased, but could this be a good way to run things? I can think of a few benefits that might apply to a school that’s owned and run by all of it’s teachers.

  • The teachers would be in full command of the resources they use to teach. This might or might not include coursebooks.
  • I can imagine there could be a lot of good training going on. Teachers would have a vested interest in training their coteachers.
  • There would be much better communication about what was going on in the school and what the long term plans for the school were.
  • Top level decisions would also be much more informed by the reality of what was going on in the classroom.
  •  Teachers would have more of a stake in their school and might be more motivated.

There are almost certainly problems that might arise, and probably benefits I didn’t mention, but this is something I’m going to look into more. I’m sure it has happened before but I can’t find much information online because google is too full of pages on ‘cooperative learning’. If anyone has any information about teaching cooperatives, let me know in the comments!