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Making the Co-operative School a Challenge Alternative: Social Reproduction Theory Revisited

Abstract

While co-operative schools are different, there are different kinds of different schools. This essay examines the type of alternative co-operative schools are, using distinctions Philip A. Woods draws from Maori philosophy of education. While some may believe that co-operative schools are a challenge alternative — rather than a choice or assimilation alternative — because they promote co-operative values, I disagree. Given the structural link between schools and economy, the way we should determine whether co-operative schools are a challenge alternative to dominant mainstream schooling is by looking to the size and strength of the co-operative economy. Using the educational genesis of the Mondragon co-operatives as a paradigm case, and social reproduction theory as a lens, it is clear that the purpose of co-operative schools was and is to strengthen the co-operative economy. The co-operative economy right now is drastically smaller and weaker than the capitalist economy in England, and the number of co-operative schools emerging does not mean they are emerging as a challenge alternative to dominant schooling

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