archives: the full collection

ragged schools invite by Jelltex | flickr ccby2
ragged schools invite by Jelltex | flickr ccby2

infed archives

Materials that illuminate the development of pedagogy, informal education, community-building and lifelong learning. Scroll through to find the writers and topics that you want – or search.

The full collection

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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 – The subjective necessity for social settlements. This important piece exploring the motives of settlement house workers by Jane Addams was first published in 1892 and later appeared as chapter six of Twenty Years at Hull House (1910).

‘Albemarle Report’ – The Youth Service in England and Wales. The Albemarle Report (1960) provided youth work in England and Wales with a very influential rationale and framework – and was a key element in substantially increasing funding for youth work. See: Chapter 1: The Youth Service yesterday and today; Chapter 3: Justification and aims of the youth service; Chapter 5: Activities and facilities and Chapter 10: Recommendations and priorities.


Leonard Barnett – club and church (1951). In this chapter taken from Leonard P. Barnett’s (1951) The Church Youth Club, some key debates and questions around the relationship of church youth club work and the wider Church are explored.

Leonard Barnett – why youth clubs? In this chapter taken from Leonard P. Barnett’s (1951) The Church Youth Club, some key debates and questions around the relationship of church youth club work and the wider Church are explored.

Leonard Barnett – responsible people (fellowship and self-government in church youth clubs). Leonard Barnett explores the importance of fellowship, association and self-government in the church youth club. Chapter 6 of Adventures with Youth, London: Methodist Association of Youth Clubs, 1962.

Henrietta O. Barnett – What has the Charity Organisation Society to do with social reform? “Might not—may not charitable effort be organised to remove some of the social conditions which stand as barriers to prevent, or anyhow make it painfully difficult for … people to live the highest, fullest, richest life?”

Samuel A. Barnett – Practictable socialism.  “Facing, then, the whole position, we see that among the majority of Englishmen life is poor; that among the few life is made rich. The thoughts stored in books, the beauty rescued from nature and preserved in pictures, the intercourse made possible by means of steam loco­motion, stir powers in the few which lie asleep in the many. If it be true, as the poet says, that men live by admiration,’ it is the few who live, for it is they who know that which is worth admiration”.

Samuel Barnett – University Settlements: Samuel A. Barnett’s (1898) review of the contribution of university and social settlements.

Zvi Bekerman, Nicholas C. Burbules and Diana Silberman Keller – Learning in places. We reprint here the introduction to Learning in Places – The informal education reader.

Tom Bentley, Helen McCarthy and Melissa Means – Inside out – rethinking inclusive communities: DEMOS report that argues that community-based organisations could be damaged by attempts to co-opt them as instruments of government policy (2003).

Stephen Billett – Critiquing workplace learning discourses: Participation and continuity at work: Stephen Billett (2001) critiques some assumptions shaping current discourses on workplace learning and proposes that these assumptions restrict how workplace learning is conceptualised and discussed. In particular, he focus on how describing workplace learning environments and experiences as ‘informal’ and that ‘informal learning’ occurs in workplaces constrains understanding about how learning occurs through work and, consequently, the development of a workplace pedagogy.

Board of Education (1939) Circular 1486 – The Service of Youth. Circular 1486 is usually taken as marking the beginning of the youth service in England and Wales. We print the full document.

Board of Education (1944) Teachers and Youth Leaders. Part two of the McNair Report on the supply, recruitment and training of teachers and youth leaders provides us with both a useful review of developments up to that point and a classic statement of the nature of youth work.

David Bohm et. al. – Dialogue:  a proposal: The full text of the very influential paper by David Bohm, Donald Factor and Peter Garrett.

Don 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.

Josephine Macalister Brew – Why clubs at all? This 1943 piece written by Brew and others explores the rationale for youth club work.

Ralph G. Brockett and Roger Hiemstra: A conceptual framework for understanding self-direction in adult learning: In this chapter from Self-Direction in Adult Learning (1991), Ralph G. Brockett and Roger Hiemstra argue that self-direction in learning refers to two distinct but related dimensions: as an instructional process where a learner assumes primary responsibility for the learning process; and as a personality characteristic centering on a learner’s desire or preference for assuming responsibility for learning. (1991)

Brooke – The Honor Club. In this short article taken from Girls Clubs News (June 1912) Evelyn Brooke reports on her work in the Honor Club. (May 2003)

Stephen D. Brookfield – Self-directed learning. Stephen D. Brookfield explores the notion of self-directed learning. He highlights two particular characteristics that move the discussion from a technical to a critical realm: authentic control, and access to resources. He argues that it is possible to rescue the term from the individualistic and atomistic narrow uses to which it has sometimes been put.

Tom Bryan: education and civic life. This (1912) paper was an important statement of education that involved the whole person and that looked to solidarity and association.


Helen Colley, Phil Hodkinson & Janice Malcolm (2002) Non-formal learning: mapping the conceptual terrain. A Consultation Report. In this piece the writers provide a very helpful overview of different discourses around non-formal and informal learning and find that there are few, if any, learning situations where either informal or formal elements are completely absent. Boundaries or relationships between informal, non-formal and formal learning can only be understood within particular contexts. They conclude that it is often more helpful to examine dimensions of formality and informality, and ways in which they inter-relate with each other; and that attention should be paid to the wider historical, social, political and economic contexts of learning, and to the theoretical view of learning that is held by the writer. [large file]


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Bernard Davies (1976) Part-time youth work in an industrial community. Subtitled ‘an analysis of some underlying assumptions and theoretical and political implications’, this booklet provides a wonderful exploration of youth work – and the impact it had upon its practitioners. It reveals youth work as a deeply personal and political experience and practice.

Bernard Davies (1979) In Whose Interests: from social education to social and life skills training. This landmark pamphlet was the first sustained exploration of the impact of the state concern with skilling (and associated currents) on youth work in England and Wales.

Department of Education and Science – Youth and Community Work in the 70s. A collection of chapters from the ‘Fairbairn-Milson’ Report (1969).

Department of Education and Science – Effective Youth Work. A report by HM Inspectors. Published in 1987, this piece by HM Inspectors is one of the last English government reports to promote open youth work – albeit with an emphasis on activity, planning and personal and social development. It drew upon a series of inspection reports to provide a series of examples of what they then deemed to be good practice.

Department for Education and Skills (2002) Transforming Youth Work – resourcing excellent youth services, London: Department for Education and Skills/Connexions. (pdf file – requires Acrobat reader). Published in December 2002, this is the English Department of Education and Skills’ specification for youth services. It continued and refined the government’s ‘modernization’ attempt to alter the character of youth service work.

Charles Dickens on ragged schooling: A letter on ragged schooling that first appeared in The Daily News in 1846. In it Charles Dickens reflects on his visit to Field Lane Ragged School.

Charles Dickens – A sleep to startle us: An article that appeared in Household Words in 1852 that looks again at ragged schooling.


Sarah Elaine Eaton – Formal, non-formal and informal learning: the case of literacy, essential skills and language learning in Canada. In this report Sarah Elaine Eaton investigates the links between formal, non-formal and informal learning and the differences between them. In particular, the report aims to link these notions of learning to literacy and essential skills, as well as the learning of second and other languages in Canada.

Educational Settlements Association – Community Education. This 1938 publication provides an insight into the work of educational settlements at the time.


Paul Fordham – Informal, non-formal and formal education programmes. Paul Fordham explores the emergence of the influential typology of education programmes as informal, non-formal and formal. The notions are considered in relation to the concern to foster economic development. 

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William Godwin – The characters of man originate in their external circumstances. ‘Refer them to reading, to conversation, to meditation; but teach them neither creeds nor catechisms, either moral or political.’ In this extract from Enquiry Concerning Political Justice William Godwin makes the case for the formative power of education.


HM Government (2004) Every Child Matters: Change for children. London: Department for Education and Skills. The most influential policy document concerning services for children and young people in England during the first ten years of 21st century.

H. M. Government (2005) Youth Matters, London: Department for Education and Skills.

HM Treasury (2007) Aiming high for young people: A ten year strategy for positive activities. London: HM Treasury/Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Roger Hiemstra – the community school: This chapter from Roger Hiemstra’s The Educative Community (1997), originally written in the early 1970s, sets out some of the key elements of the North American community school (1972, 1997).

Octavia Hill. From a Drawing by Edward Clifford, 1877. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

Octavia Hill – Space for the people. This article by Octavia Hill, included in Homes of the London Poor (1883), outlines her case for the need for all people to be able to access space: places to sit in, places to play in, places to stroll in, and places to spend a day in.

James Hole – Social education: Chapter 8 of James Hole’s (1860) “Light, More Light!”On the present state of education amongst the working classes of Leeds – exploring the power of popular forms.



Jeffs and Smith (eds.) – Using Informal Education
Currently available:

1. Using informal educationTony Jeffs and Mark Smith set out key themes and approaches.

2. Personality and curriculum. Anne Foreman explores youth work’s pre-occupation with curriculum and the significance of character.

3. Informal education in residential care with adults. Mal Blackburn and Don Blackburn explore some key issues and questions that arise in practice.

4. Informal education with young women in the community. Glynis Francis explores some of the issues with regard to developing informal education practice with young women.

5. Informal education – a place in the new school curriculum – Dave Burley examines the experience of informal educators in schools and some of the issues facing them.

6. Neighbourhood, crime and informal education – Debbie Saddington. Debbie Saddington explores educative practice within the probation service.

7. Informal education: a Christian perspective – John Ellis. In this seminal piece, John W. Ellis explores the practice of Christian informal education, and contrasts it with formal approaches.

8. Informal education and working with carers – Pauline Gertig. Pauline Gertig looks beyond casework to examine the contribution of informal education to social work practice with carers.

9. Where practice enlightens theory and theory enriches practice – Elizabeth Afua Sinclair. Elizabeth Afua Sinclair reflects on being a student in an institution committed to informal education.

10. Educating informal educators – Tony Jeffs and Mark Smith. Tony Jeffs and Mark Smith explore the context for professional education and some of the implications for the development of informal educators.


Jeffs and Smith: ‘getting the dirtbags off the street’ – youth curfews and other solutions to juvenile crime. Review the evidence from American Initiatives (1996).


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Homer Lane – The Little Commonwealth: An extract from a lecture given by Homer Lane in 1918.

Tom Lovett – Radical community education. Tom Lovett explores the development of radical community education and explores different models of practice. Different models of recent work are reviewed and some ways forward suggested. This article was first published in 1994.

William Lovett and John Collins extracts from Chartism – A New Organization of the People (1840). Sharing something of a similar political tradition to Robert Owen – but coming a different social position – William Lovett – has a significant place in the development of ideas around schooling and lifelong learning.


Joan E. Matthews – Professional Skill: Subtitled ‘Notes written for the guidance of area organizers and supervisors but which may also serve as an introduction to social group work for youth leaders’, this 1968 pamphlet by Joan E. Matthews was a popular introduction to the area.

Marjorie Mayo – Community participation, community development and non-formal education. In this piece Marjorie Mayo explores competing perspectives based upon different theoretical approaches to social change, and to combating poverty and disadvantage. This article was first published in 1994.

Fred Milson – Growing with the Job: In this popular pamphlet from 1968, Fred Milson makes the case for attending to the growth and development of workers – and the special setting in which they are working.

Fred Milson – Why am I a youth worker? A 1972 exploration of the goals and motives of youth workers.

Ministry of Education: The purpose and content of the youth service. This Report of the Youth Advisory Council appointed by the Minister of Education in 1943 (and published in 1945), provides a classic statement of youth work as non-vocational group work.

William Morris – A factory as it might be. A series of three articles which first appeared in Justice in 1884 which looks at the way in which industry and education might be brought together under socialism.

William Morris – Thoughts on education under capitalism. An 1888 article from the Commonweal examining the limitations and problematic nature of schooling under capitalism.


National Association of Boy’s Clubs – The principles and aims of the boy’s club movement. This classic statement of the ethos and aims of the boys’ club movement was agreed in 1930. It highlights the distinctive contribution of club life when combined with a concern for play, fitness (or wholeness), comradeship and self-government.

Michael Newman (1993) The third contract: theory and practice in trade union training. Full text (pdf) of one of the few grounded and critical explorations of trade union training in the last two decades.

Michael Newman (1994) Defining the enemy – adult education in social action. Full text (pdf) of this important book. Winner of the Cyril Houle Award for Outstanding Literature in Adult Education from the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education.

Michael Newman (1999) Maeler’s regard: images of adult learning. Full text (pdf) of this accessible treatment of the ‘the mysterious and complex process of learning’.


Robert Owen. An Address to the Inhabitants of New Lanark. This famous address on the significance of education for social change was delivered by Robert Owen on the opening of the Institute for the Formation of Character on January 1, 1816.


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Emmeline Pethick (1899) – Working girls’ clubs. Emmeline Pethick reflects on some early and highly innovative work with girls and young women.



Will Reason – Settlements and education. Overview of educational provision in early university and social settlements (1898).

Kenneth E. Reid – Social group work: formulation of a method, 1920-1936. In this important (1981) piece Kenneth E. Reid explores a pivotal time in the development of the theory and practice of working with groups within social work. He assesses the contribution of Grace Coyle, W. I. Newstetter and other key figures and reflects on the emergence of ‘social group work’.

Kenneth E. Reid – Group work: expansion and professionalism 1937 – 1955. Kenneth E. Reid (1981) explores how group work was increasingly presented as part of social work (as against informal education and recreation) and the fascinating process of delineating its boundaries.

Sue Robertson – a safe, warm place: an argument for youth clubs. Sue Robertson argues that youth clubs have a unique role and one that should be valued and supported as they can make a big difference in the lives of many young people and their communities. Reproduced from Youth & Policy 70 (winter 2000/01)

Alan Rogers – Starting out in detached work. This classic (1981) booklet described and explained some of the causes of isolation experienced by detached youth workers and offered guidelines for action and recording during these early months which provided a means of identifying problems and overcoming them.

Rowntree and Binns – The organization of the (adult school) class. In this (1903) piece J. Wilhelm Rowntree and Henry Bryan Binns examine the nature of teaching in adult schools in the early twentieth century and recognize the significance of fellowship and ‘systematic husbandry’.

John Ruskin – Modern education. ‘Modern education’ first appeared as an appendix to John Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice [Volume III] in 1853. It it he defines one of his key educational principles: education according to aptitude and circumstance.


Scottish Executive (2003) Working and learning together to build stronger communities: draft community learning + development guidance – the Scottish Executive.

Scottish Executive (2007) Moving Forward. A strategy for improving young people’s chances through youth work. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Chandler Screven: museums and informal education: Chandler Screven examines the possibilities for informal education within museums. There has been a strong tradition of thinking about informal education in museums and centers in north American – especially in relation to science – and Screven provides some important guidelines. (1991)

Lesley Sewell – Looking at youth clubs. E. Lesley Sewell’s pamphlet is a youth work classic. First published in 1966 it became the reference point for many workers and organizers when thinking about the work they were observing.

Samuel Smiles and self-help. Self-Help argued for the importance of character, thrift and perseverance, the book also celebrates civility, independence and individuality. As such it reflects concerns and values that were central to working class efforts at self-improvement and study in the second half of the nineteenth century. Here we reproduce the first chapter.

Mark Smith – Creators not Consumers. Rediscovering social education: The full text of the second edition (1982).

Mark Smith – Developing youth work. Informal education, mutual aid and popular practice. The full text of the 1988 edition is now on line:



chapter 1: enter youth workers

chapter 2: the making of popular youth work

chapter 3: definition, tradition and change in youth work

chapter 4: the demise of the youth service

chapter 5: beyond social education

chapter 6: good purpose

chapter 7: informal education

chapter 8: developing popular practice


Mark K. Smith – Developing critical conversations about practice. Examines the use of study groups by practitioners to deepen and extend their practice.

Mark K. Smith – From youth work to youth development. An exploration of the 2003 government framework for English youth services

Mark K Smith – The case for youth work – a presentation to the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit 2004

Henry Solly – prospectus for the working men’s club and institute union: This prospectus was drawn up by Henry Solly in 1862 in order to obtain money and support for the establishment of the Club and Institute Union.

Henry Solly: the origin and nature of Working Men’s Clubs and Institutes. In this piece Henry Solly reviews the early development of working men’s clubs and establishes their central characteristics and principles. First published as Chapter 1 of Henry Solly (1867; 1904) Working Men’s Social Clubs and Educational Institutes.

Maude Stanley – the way to start and run a girls’ clubs: Maude Stanley’s (1890) handbook Clubs for Working Girls was the first substantial exploration of what was involved in girls’ club work. Here we reproduce Chapter II. In it Stanley sets out her view of some of the key characteristics of such work

Maude Stanley – ‘night schools’: This piece provides an insight into the way in which parish visitors approached their tasks – in particular, how they related schooling and club work to outreach. Taken from Chapter IX of Maude Stanley’s (1878) Work About The Five Dials, London: Macmillan.

Arthur Sweatman – youths’ clubs and institutes: Arthur Sweatman’s (1863) groundbreaking paper was the first to describe and advocate club provision for youths. It provides a particularly helpful insight to some of the activities of early clubs and institutes.


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The 1919 report – voluntary organizations and adult education: Chapter VII of this famous report.

Paul V. Taylor – Dialogue, conversation and praxis. In this piece Paul V. Taylor examines: dialogue as a norm of behaviour; dialogue as a theory of knowledge; dialogic competence; conversation and interpretation; and praxis as action and reflection.




Welsh Assembly Government (2007) Young people, youth work, Youth Service. National Youth Service Strategy for Wales. Cardiff: Welsh Assembly Government.

Mary Wollstonecraft – On national education. Being chapter XII of Mary Wollstonecraft’s (1792) A Vindication of the Rights of Women.

Robert A. Woods (1899) University settlements: their point and drift. In this important piece, Woods reflects on the development of settlement work in the United States and argues for the fostering of association, co-operation and common welfare.

Robert A. Woods (1912) The recovery of the parish. Originally an address, this piece makes a strong argument for neighbourhood fellowship and association and looks to role that churches can, and should, play in their cultivation.




Acknowledgements: The picture of Octavia Hill is from a Drawing by Edward Clifford, 1877. Sourced from Wikimedia Commons this illustration is said to be in the public domain because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

Picture: A group of boys set to work creating an allotment on a bomb site in London during 1942. Sourced from Wikimedia Commons, this photograph was scanned and released by the Imperial War Museum on the IWM Non Commercial Licence.