What is action research and how do we do it?

In this article, we explore the development of some different traditions of action research and provide an introductory guide to the literature. contents: what is action research? · origins · the decline and rediscovery of action research · undertaking action research · conclusion · further reading · how to cite this article. see, also: research for […]

Jane Addams: Socialized education

Jane Addams’ (1910) discussion of the educational contribution of social settlements – Chapter XVIII of Twenty Years at Hull House, New York: Macmillan. Jane Addams (1869-1935) is, perhaps, best known as a pioneering social worker and social activist, however she was also a committed internationalist and critical intellectual. She introduced and developed the idea of […]

Andragogy: what is it and does it help thinking about adult learning?

Andragogy: what is it and does it help thinking about adult learning? The notion of andragogy has been around for nearly two centuries. It became particularly popular in North America and Britain as a way of describing adult learning through the work of Malcolm Knowles. But what actually does it mean, and how useful a […]

Animate, care, educate – the core processes of pedagogy

Animate, care, educate – the core processes of pedagogy. Pedagogy can be viewed as a process of accompanying people and bringing flourishing and relationship to life (animation); caring for, and about, people (caring); and drawing out learning (education). Here Mark K Smith explores these core processes. contents: introducing pedagogy • accompanying • core processes • […]

Animateurs, animation, learning and change

Animateurs, animation, learning and change. Animation means, literally, to breathe life into some thing. A transformation is involved, what was still now moves. But what place does animation have in stimulating learning and change? What do animateurs do? Where are animateurs to be found? contents: introduction · some models for starters · animateurs in France […]

Hannah Arendt and Jean Baudrillard: pedagogy in the consumer society

Hannah Arendt and Jean Baudrillard: pedagogy in the consumer society. Trevor Norris explores the contribution of Hannah Arendt and Jean Baudrillard to our appreciation of the consumer society and education. Contents: introduction · the rise of consumerism · Hannah Arendt: consuming the polis · Jean Baudrillard: consuming signs · the consumer society and education · […]

Aristotle and education

Aristotle, The Louvre Wikipedia | ccby sa2 licence Aristotle and education. We only have scraps of his work, but his influence on educational thinking has been of fundamental importance. Aristotle (384 – 322 BC). Aristotle’s work was wide-ranging – yet our knowledge of him is necessarily fragmented. Only around 20 per cent of his written […]

What can education learn from the arts about the practice of education?

Elliot W. Eisner argues that the distinctive forms of thinking needed to create artistically crafted work are relevant not only to what students do, they are relevant to virtually all aspects of what we do, from the design of curricula, to the practice of teaching, to the features of the environment in which students and […]

Association, la vie associative and lifelong learning

Association, la vie associative and lifelong learning: we explore the process of joining together in companionship or to undertake some task – and the educative power of playing one’s part in a group or association. contents : introduction · the significance of local institutions and associations · the decline of associational activity · la vie associative […]

The impact of austerity on schools and children’s education and well-being

The impact of austerity on schools and children’s education and well-being. Cutbacks in government-sponsored services, growing inequality and falling real wages, and changes in housing and income support are impacting upon the lives of children and creating major challenges for schools and colleges in the UK. Mark K Smith explores some key areas of concern […]

Seeking out the gift of authenticity

Seeking out the gift of authenticity: Heather Smith argues that developments in youth work are undermining authentic relationship. She suggests that if we do prize relationships over targets and do truly care about the people we encounter, it is possible to take personal responsibility to seek out the gift of authenticity. contents: introduction · the […]

Thomas John Barnardo (‘the doctor’) and his work with children and young people

Thomas John Barnardo (‘the doctor’). Dr. Thomas John Barnardo was what we might now call an extraordinary ‘social entrepreneur’. But who was he and what did he achieve? He was well known for his homes and training schemes, but what was his contribution to the development of youth work and social work practice? contents: introduction […]

St. John Bosco – An exhortation to educators

Letter from St. John Bosco to his Salesians, from Rome, May 10, 1884 outlining the place of friendship, relationship and recreation in his ‘preventative’ approach. contents: preface · an exhortation to educators · how to cite this piece Don Bosco (1815-1888) was a talented educator and animateur. He was particularly concerned with the needs of […]

Pierre Bourdieu on education: Habitus, capital, and field. Reproduction in the practice of education

contents: introduction • Pierre Bourdieu – life • habitus • field • capital • exploring reproduction • developing practice • conclusion • references and further reading • acknowledgements • how to cite this piece Pierre Bourdieu’s exploration of how the social order is reproduced, and inequality persists across generations, is more pertinent than ever. We examine some […]

David Brandon – homelessness, advocacy and mental health, and zen in the art of helping

David Brandon – homelessness, advocacy and mental health, and zen in the art of helping. In this article we examine David Brandon’s seminal contribution to our understanding of the experience of homelessness and mental health problems, and his insights into the nature of advocacy and the helping process. We draw out some lessons for informal […]

Camping, summer camps, camp counselors and informal education

Summer camps, camp counselors and informal education. Summer camps are part of the lives of many middle class young people in the United States. In Britain camps have been associated with Scouting and Guiding, but more recently there is discussion about offering more 16 year olds the chance to take part. Here we explore the […]

Casework and the Charity Organization Society

Casework and the Charity Organization Society. Founded in 1869, the Charity Organization Society (COS) made a deep impact on social work through its advocacy and codification of emerging methods. This, with its focus on the family, and upon a scientific approach provided a key foundation for the development of social work as profession in Britain. […]

Calling and informal education

Calling and informal education. The notion of calling, once rather unfashionable, has re-emerged as an organizing idea within education. Michele Erina Doyle examines calling and vocation, and sets them in particular within Christian discourse. She argues that fulfilling our calling as informal educators means we work with others for the processes of knowing, testing, naming, […]

Too few, too many: The retreat from vocation and calling

Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash Tony Jeffs examines some of the uncomfortable questions raised by Victoria Climbie’s murder and subsequent policy responses around the training, recruitment and management of welfare professionals including informal educators such as youth workers and community educators. In particular he argues that face-to-face work has been devalued and constrained; policymakers […]

Civil society

Civil society. Civil society is much talked about, but rarely understood. Michael Edwards explores the practical and theoretical significance of civil society – and suggests some ways through the issues surrounding its use. Contents: introduction · the civil society puzzle · civil society – gaining some clarity · civil society as associational life · civil […]

Club work

  On this page we explore the nature of clubs and how they came to be a key site of informal education activity. Focusing on developments in Britain, we examine their benefits and some of the issues that face those that work in, and with, them. To be completed contents: introduction · philanthropy · parish […]

Coffee houses and informal education

 Mid sevententh century coffee house, Wikimedia Commons pd The first coffee house appeared in 1650 and they became major forces in learning. Coffee houses, as forums for debate and discussion, played an important part in the general diffusion of knowledge and ideas (Kelly 1970: 82). The first is said to have appeared in Oxford in […]

Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice

Jean Lave, Etiene Wenger and communities of practice. The idea that learning involves a deepening process of participation in a community of practice has gained significant ground in recent years. Communities of practice have also become an important focus within organizational development and have considerable value when thinking about working with groups. In this article […]

What is community?

Community. What is community and why should educators be concerned with it? We explore the development of theory around community, and the significance of boundaries, social networks and social norms – and why attention to social capital and communion may be important. contents: approaching the theory of community · community and boundary · community and […]

Offering community to children and young people in schools and local organizations

Mark K Smith explores how, in the context of the ‘new normal’, educators, pedagogues and practitioners need to offer community to children and young people. This article is part of a series: dealing with the new normal • offering sanctuary • offering community • offering hope] contents: introduction • friendship • social capital • associational life […]

How to do a community audit: building profiles using neighbourhood statistics

On this page we suggest some basic and quick steps you can undertake a community audit, and gather information about a particular neighbourhood in Britain or Northern Ireland. contents: introducing community audits and profiles · quick statistical profile · census material · local authority statistics and other material · crime · other searches · your […]

Community education

What is community education? A guide and booklist. Broadly, we can approach community education as ‘education for community within community’. In other words, something called ‘community‘ is not just the place or context in which education is to occur, fostering community is also a central concern. The process of becoming part of an existing social […]

Explore the theory and practice of community education

What actually is community education? How does it differ from education in the community, or education for community? We explore the theory of community education and some examples of practice using resources from The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education. In England, and many other countries, ‘community education’ has tended to be wrapped up with […]


Here we have listed some key texts that develop or explore ‘conscientization’. The idea has been linked with the work of Paulo Freire and Pedagogy of the Oppressed – although Freire used to claim that he had not used the term since the early 1970s as it had been badly misused (Taylor 1993: 52). However, […]

Contactpoint – because every child matters?

Server farm by sugree on flickr ContactPoint is an online database which contains basic information about every child and young person in England from birth to their 18th birthday. David Hoyle explores the nature of the system – and the critisicisms made of it. He asks is the scale of the threat to children and […]

Mark Smith: Creators not consumers. Rediscovering social education

Written by Mark Smith, Creators not Consumers first appeared in 1980. We reproduce the complete text Two main themes run through Creators not Consumers. First, there is a concern to encourage young people to get involved in organizing things for themselves. This flows from a belief in the benefits of associational life both for the […]

Mark Smith: Creators not consumers. Introduction

The introduction to Mark Smith’s exploration of youth work and social education – Creators not Consumers. Rediscovering social education (1982). This booklet has been written to promote discussion about social education. In the twenty years or so since the term first came into common usage there have been a number of developments in youth work […]

Mark Smith: Creators not consumers. Chapter 1 – The ice skating trip

Chapter 1 of Mark Smith’s exploration of youth work and informal education – Creators not Consumers. Rediscovering social education (1982) Just after club had finished Neil came into the office and asked if we could organise an ice skating trip. He thought we could easily fill a coach if we charged £1.50 per person. How […]

Mark Smith: Creators not consumers. Chapter 2 – What the workers did

Chapter 2 of Mark Smith’s exploration of youth work and social education – Creators not Consumers. Rediscovering social education (1982). contents: · breaking down events ·  opportunism ·  learning by experience ·  being participative ·  the social context ·  conclusion · [page 12] The skating trip gives us a flavour of what social education might mean […]

Mark Smith: Creators not consumers. Chapter 3- Rediscovering social education

Chapter 3 of Mark Smith’s exploration of youth work and social education –  Creators not Consumers. Rediscovering social education (1982). contents: · developmental needs · values · conclusion · [page 24] So far we have been looking at a form of youth work that puts learning first. In this chapter I want to ask what makes […]

Mark Smith: Creators not consumers. Chapter 4: Social education and politics

Chapter 4 of Mark Smith’s exploration of youth work and social education – Creators not Consumers. Rediscovering social education (1982). contents: the politics of developmental needs· what should workers do?· conclusion [page 34] Whilst many of the young people we work with face incredible injustices, are ignorant of their rights and are racist and sexist, our […]

Mark Smith: Creators not consumers. Afterword – Towards a critical social education?

The conclusion  of Mark Smith’s exploration of youth work and social education – Creators not Consumers. Rediscovering social education (1982). [page 55] Looking back over the last chapter one word seems to spring out from the pages — the word critical. Its arrival is no accident. Three meanings of the word join together and make […]

Mark Smith: Creators not consumers. Further reading

From Mark Smith’s exploration of youth work and social education – Creators not Consumers. Rediscovering social education (1982). [page 57] I have only listed books or articles that I feel are particularly helpful. Anybody who wants detailed references should contact me c/o NAYC Publications. 1. Bernard Davies : Part-time Youth Work in an Industrial Community […]

What is curriculum? Exploring theory and practice

Curriculum theory and practice.The organization of schooling and further education has long been associated with the idea of a curriculum.  But what actually is curriculum, and how might it be conceptualized? We explore curriculum theory and practice and its relation to informal education. Contents: introduction · curriculum as transmission · curriculum as product · curriculum as process […]

Bernard Davies, social education, group work and youth work

Bernard Davies, social education, group work and youth work. Bernard Davies is a, perhaps the, key figure in the development of youth work in Britain in last forty years of the twentieth century. His work, initially with Alan Gibson, was central to social education becoming a defining feature of youth work in the 1960s and […]

Alan Rogers: Starting out in detached work

  Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash Starting work as a detached worker can be an isolating experience; although there may be co-workers and managers willing to offer support and a community to relate to, workers are essentially on their own. Alan Rogers explores the experience in this classic booklet dating from 1981. contents: introducing […]

Developing youth work: Informal education, mutual aid and popular practice

Developing Youth Work (1988) was an attempt to construct a coherent and distinctive understanding of youth work. It looked to informal education and association (mutual aid) as the core of the work, and argued that the youth service was in terminal decline. We publish the complete book. Contents preface introduction chapter 1: enter youth workers […]

Developing youth work: Preface

This book began life in 1982 as an attempt to construct a coherent and distinctive understanding of youth work. While it would be nice to claim that the thinking reported in these pages has matured and developed through constant reflection over the intervening years, the truth is that it has had a stuttering existence, competing […]

Developing youth work: Introduction

So much of what is said about youth work either seeks to conceal or is the product of lazy or rhetorical thinking. The ahistorical, apolitical and anti-intellectual attitude of many in this area has meant that practice is peculiarly prone to influence by moral panics, fads and fashions. As such, the work is further threatened […]

Developing youth work: Chapter 1 – Enter youth workers

contents: introduction · little ladies at home · the making of modern leisure · threats from within and without · psychology – the final piece of the jigsaw · the new provision · there will be drill · ennobling their class · bourgeois youth work · further reading and references This chapter has a strong focus […]

Developing youth work: Chapter 2 – The making of popular youth work

In this, the second chapter of Developing Youth Work, Mark Smith explores the emergence of working class and more community-based forms of youth work. In particular he looks at the development of work within chapels and other associations in the nineteenth century, and the development of practice in the 1930s and 1940s. contents:  introduction · […]

Developing youth work: Chapter 3 – Definition, tradition and change in youth work

In this the third chapter of Developing Youth Work, Mark Smith explores the clusters of key ideas that appear to inform the ways in which youth workers see their tasks. Six broad bodies of customs, thoughts and practices are identified – and the power of tradition explored. contents: introduction · traditions in youth work · […]

Developing youth work: Chapter 4 – The demise of the youth service?

In chapter 4 of developing youth work Mark Smith explores the situation facing youth work and the youth service in the late 1980s. He argues that the youth service will whither away, but that youth work in different forms will develop, but not necessarily grow. contents: introduction · growing inequality and a new social condition […]

Developing youth work: Chapter 5 – Beyond social education

This chapter (5) from Developing Youth Work (1988) explores the notion of social education – and how it came into usage in the British youth work tradition. Mark Smith argues that there are particular problems around the personalist orientation that it involves, and the extent to which the idea of selfhood involved is ethnocentric. He […]

Developing youth work: Chapter 6 – Good purpose

Here Mark Smith, in chapter 6 of Developing Youth Work, explores what might lie at the heart of youth work. He underlines the educational nature of the work. He also returns to notions of human well-being and suggests that educators are concerned with enlarging people’s appreciation of it, and developing their ability to act. Smith […]