Let’s co-op for the future

Let’s co-op for the future

Because the year 2014 ended yesterday, it is time to think about the coming year. When I think what would be the single most important thing we need in 2015, I would say tolerance and the spirit of cooperation would race for the top. There are not many things to do to make politicians more tolerant, especially when they can conjure more votes when they are harsher to anyone who thinks differently,
On the other hand, we can do a lot to increase the sense of cooperation among the youth. One of the most structured methods for that is to teach them about life after university while they are still protected by the educational institutions against the harsh realities of the life after their graduation.

The best method of mingling students with work life and their future roles in the society is cooperative education programs.

Cooperative education (or co-operative education) is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. A cooperative education experience, commonly known as a “co-op,” provides academic credit for structured job experience. Cooperative education is taking on new importance in helping young people to make the school-to-work transition, service learning, and experiential learning initiatives

While at Lehigh University at the beginning of the 20th Century, Herman Schneider (1872–1939), engineer, architect and educator concluded that the traditional classroom was insufficient for technical students (Smollins 1999). Schneider observed that several of the more successful Lehigh graduates had worked to earn money before graduation. Gathering data through the interviews of employers and graduates, he devised the framework for cooperative education (1901). About that time, Carnegie Technical School, now Carnegie Mellon University, opened and thereby minimized the need for Schneider’s co-op plan in the region around Lehigh University. However, in 1903 the University of Cincinnati appointed Schneider to their faculty. In 1905, the UC Board of Trustees allowed Schneider to “try this cooperative idea of education for one year only, for the failure of which they would not be held responsible.” The cooperative education program was launched in 1906 and became an immediate success. The University of Cincinnati returned to the matter in its September 2005 board meeting, declaring the 100 year-trial period of 100 years of Cooperative Education officially ended, for the success of which the Board resumed full responsibility.

In Turkey the “coop” mentality is very young, but they are very robust. The first of its kind was established in Bahçeşehir University. I had a conversation with Zeynep Yener, Director of International Coop, and she told me there is a huge demand for students from Istanbul. She also stated that Turkish students are also very successful at getting into co-op programs anywhere in the world.

I believe we need more foreigners in Turkey and more Turkish people in foreign countries, both to teach and learn the culture and the business environment. If Turkey has a shot at uniting with Europe or being a leader, it will need more youngsters who have experience in cooperation programs.