Everyone agrees that cooperating with others is a good thing. So why is it so hard to do and so rare to find in school s and business?
It's hard, because being cooperative is dependent on being willing to share. When we work with others, we may need to share space, materials, ideas, and most importantly, our time.
Secondly, cooperation takes giving up our independence. We need to take time to listen to others' ideas, even ones we disagree with or think are useless. We have to help less skilled people participate fully. We have match our schedule to that of other people.
Most important, in our highly competitive society, we have to give all the credit to the group. In fact, this is one of the great problems with cooperative learning in schools. Teachers struggle when grading group projects, because most cooperative groups have a mix of strong and weak members.
However, when participants enter a cooperative group willingly, and when everyone is passionately focused on the mission, then the problems listed above disappear.
One of the best examples of a cooperative project is the community garden.
A community garden grows out of everyone's need for fresh healthy food. Gardening involves tasks that are easily matched to members. Adults can spade and hoe. Children can plant seeds and weed. Everyone can water and harvest. And that harvest rewards everyone more than twice over by giving members better food, better health, and a feeling of accomplishment.
City Green by Diane DiSalvo-Ryan A young girl and her neighbor start a garden in a vacant lot. Soon everyone in the community is helping out. Elementary
Community Soup by Alma Fullerton A group of school children in Kenya start a school garden. But one student has a troublesome goat. Preschool-Lower Elementary
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin This biography of retired basketball star and MacArthur Grant winner Will Allen shows how he developed urban gardening methods to help city dwellers grow their own food. Upper Elementary
The Garden of Happiness by Erika Tamar A little girl wants to plant a seed she's found, but there isn't room in the community garden. So she plants it in a crack, and soon it brings everyone happiness.
The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen In this inspirational book Will Allen, shares his life, how racism affected him, and broadens our perspective on food. High School-Adult
Our Community Garden by Barbara Pollack This is the story of a group of children and how they plant, care for, harvest and then eat the food they grow in their community garden. Elementary
Our School Garden by Richard Swan A community school garden helps a new boy feel comfortable. Full of activity ideas realted to gardening. Elementary
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman In this Newberry award winner, a drab lot in Cleveland is turned into a garden, and in the process, heals the division between the diverse members of the neighborhood. Told in the form of 13 short stories. Upper Elementary-Middle School
Water, Weed and Wait by Edith Hope Fine A school garden brings the neighborhood together. Elementary