Students from Reddish Vale Technology College in Stockport and St Peter’s High School in Manchester took part in the Co-operative College’s second Robert Owen Day, using a videoconference to enjoy activities commemorating the famous nineteenth century social reformer, who is often called the father of social enterprise.
As part of the activity, which was held to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week, students watched a presentation on Owen’s eventful life and answered questions to a quiz.
They also had the chance to ask experts from the National Co-operative Archive at the Co-operative College about Robert Owen, whose papers are in the archive. Assistant Archivists Sophie Stewart and Adam Shaw showed students a letter written from Owen to his wife in 1822 on camera so students could see Owen’s poor handwriting, as well as an 1832 publication depicting a model community. Students came up with insightful questions relating to what they had learned about Owen’s life and work, such as ‘Do you think that Robert Owen would be happy with his legacy today?’, ‘Did Robert Owen’s children work in the factories too’ and ‘If he didn’t make any changes would we still be working today instead of going to school’, as well as questions about the contents of the archive such as ‘Did he ever have a diary?’ and ‘How did you get all the original letters?’.
Students had a taste of Robert Owen’s life in the Each One Teach One activity by becoming teachers for others in their class because Owen himself had learned everything he could in school by the age of seven and started teaching the other children. Students shared football skills, a basketball move, how to play a simple tune on a guitar and card tricks with each other in their individual schools before demonstrating what they had learned to students elsewhere live on camera.