New Curriculum Promotes Co-ops in the Classroom

New Curriculum Promotes Co-ops in the Classroom

All for Each an accessible resource for high school teachers

When the Ontario Co-operative Association launched a new co-operative curriculum at the spring Ontario Business Educators Association conference they were “flooded” by interested teachers, says Kerr Smith.

Kerr, the association’s education manager, says the “All 4 Each: A unit to inspire a co-operative conscience” curriculum is an exciting collaborative project with contributions from Canada’s provincial co-operative associations.

At the conference, 400 teachers were given the curriculum to take back to their classrooms.

Kerr Smith

Youth at the Co-operative Young Leaders summer camp received the curriculum, and this fall approximately 3,000 copies have been distributed.

The free resource is attractive to teachers, as many admit they never learned about co-operatives and therefore the sector is skipped in the curriculum, says Kerr.

As a former teacher himself, Kerr says when he joined the association his lack of knowledge about the sector was impressive to his colleagues who gave him the task to take the information and create something for teachers.

The curriculum aims to present co-operatives in a way that is instantly accessible and bare-bones while reframing the sector as being part of movements like sustainability, Fair Trade, environmentalism, volunteerism and community giving.

Kerr says the reframing was key, and instead of getting into the nitty-gritty of co-operatives they are presented as a profitable business with a social conscious.

All 4 Each has a series of five lessons in a brightly-coloured illustrated booklet, with a culminating assignment where students develop their own co-operative enterprise ideas. Everything the teacher needs for the lessons are included such as background material, handouts and discussion topics.

“The response from the teachers is they all are looking for a resource and they really like this one so far,” says Kerr.

High school civics, world studies, entrepreneurship and business courses are well-suited for the curriculum. There is a curriculum page for teachers to help in determining where it fits in their course.

“What’s really exciting is smaller credit unions and co-ops are getting on board to include (the curriculum) in their plan for youth engagement,” Kerr tells Axiom News.

For example, Your Credit Union in Ottawa paid to print 2,000 copies of the curriculum for the Ottawa area.

Kerr is looking for school board champions in all regions of the province.

The goal is to get the curriculum into teachers’ hands and for it to be on the shelf of every Canadian high school’s business department, says Kerr.

A dream is to create more curriculum, he says, noting there’s been interest in the subjects of credit unions and financial literacy, as well as co-ops and international development.

The curriculum is timely with the United Nations declaring 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives and the Occupy and Move Your Money movements showing the desire for an alternative way, says Kerr.

To learn more and download All 4 Each, click here.

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Jennifer Neutel's picture
Jennifer Neutel

Jennifer Neutel is a Story Advocate and Generative Journalist at Axiom News. She completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2006, and joined Axiom News in 2007. She has taken on a variety of roles at Axiom including new social media intiatives and has a passion for creating strengths-based questions that can lead to positive change.

Contact Jennifer:, or 705-741-4421 ext. 26.

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