books etc.

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash
Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

mark k smith: learning materials | books | pamphlets and booklets | other edited collections


Learning materials

study units

Pedagogy, learning and development | Human growth and development | Helping and counselling skills | Teaching and group work | Working with systems and networks | Critical theory

Developed and edited by Mark K Smith (2014-20)

Six 20-credit degree modules for the YMCA George Williams College/Coventry University’s Children, young people, and families – BA Hons programme.  Each module had a study guide and a reader with 24 readings. These materials were available in different formats – print, screen, phone, and an A4 Open Dyslexic version. They could also be accessed as kindle and epub versions.



Robert Owen’s New Lanark School for Children [opened in 1817] – J R James Archive ccbync2

Reimagining Education

Tony Jeffs and I have been undertaking research for a new book that explores the changing environments that educators have to operate within. In particular, we focus on the fundamental mistakes being made by policymakers, academics and those charged with developing practice in schools, colleges and local communities. We argue there is a need to reconceptualize education – and that the differences between pedagogy and teaching matter. Understanding this is central to developing alternative ways of approaching schooling, informal education and community development.

Hopefully, the book will be available in 2025.


Youth work and faith

Youth work and faith. Debates, delights, and dilemmas

Edited by Mark K Smith, Naomi Stanton, and Tom Wylie. Russell House Publications 2015. 

Click for the blurb on Amazon.

From the blurb: This unique book draws on the debates, delights, and dilemmas of the relationship between youth work and faith. It is informed by a range of perspectives, from specific faith traditions as well as cross-cutting issues, and will enhance both practice and study. In recent years, the balance of youth work provision has markedly shifted so that, at present, more full-time workers are employed in faith settings than secular ones. This book fills a gap in the market for a contemporary youth work text that addresses the underlying tensions within faith-based work and embraces a multi-faith approach. Its editors have worked within faith-based, voluntary and statutory youth work sectors; this balance of experience ensures that the book approaches the debates around youth work and faith in a way that is relevant to the youth work field as a whole.  The book opens up the debate between the faith-based and wider youth work sectors, recognizing the field in its current form and the issues and opportunities we face as we approach a new era in youth work policy and practice.


Learning through outdoor experience. A guide for schools and youth groups

Edited by Alan Rogers and Mark K Smith. The Rank Foundation / YMCA George Williams College 2012

Contributions from Amanda Davies, Chris Dunning, Charlie Harris, David Hassard, Chris Saunders, Danielle Sharp, Jenny Tibbles, Mark Williams and Kai Wooder.

pdf version [free] · epub [free] · prc [free] version for phone, tablets and computers · Kindle version from Amazon

Experiencing the outdoors can be a powerful stimulus for learning. Being deep in a forest, feeling alone on a hillside or just sharing a cup of tea around a fire can set us on a path that changes the way we think about ourselves, our relationships and the way we live our lives.

These pages are a compilation of practical insight and advice on the educational potential of the outdoor experience – and what we can do to deepen learning and support change.

Learning through outdoor experience was written by a team of people involved in outdoor learning and experience. They are part of a network of workers and agencies linked to the Rank Foundation (yarn) in the UK. As well as drawing on their own experience and expertise they were also helped by responses and contributions by more than 50 other people in the network.

Acknowledgment: The cover image was provided by Logic Cafe – all rights reserved.

Journeying together

Journeying together. Growing youth work and youth workers in local communities 

Edited by Alan Rogers and Mark K Smith. Russell House Press. 2010. 

Click for Amazon blurb. Available to read in the Internet Archive.

From the blurb: This accessible text explores a way of working – pioneered and developed over 22 years in a UK-wide initiative – to grow youth work by supporting individuals to train professionally while working in community-based organizations… and, through this investment in people, to create a lasting impact within communities. Grounded in workers’ personal experiences, as well as in relevant theory, it will encourage anyone who is working directly or in partnership with young people to look at and develop, their own ways of working in communities. Journeying Together shows how demonstrating trust in young people, valuing them and acknowledging their rights and responsibilities enable us to involve them in community concerns. Journeying Together encourages readers to consider what they can learn from the approach, and how they can apply it in their own work. The book is about taking a step toward young people, so as to engage with them as valuable contributors to their communities, and to offer them an opportunity and a challenge.


Youth work practice

Youth work practice (Practical Social Work Series)

Edited by Tony Jeffs and Mark K Smith. Macmillan. 2010

Click to look inside. Available in printed and digital versions. It was available to read in the Internet Archive but thanks to debatable legal action by the big four publishers the book is no longer able to be borrowed [unless you have print disabilities].

From the blurb: In a clear conversational style, the text analyses the many aspects of youth work, including activities, group life, making conversation and mentoring, alongside practical guidance to advise on working with today’s young people.

Jeffs and Smith’s previous book, Youth Work (1988), was a seminal text on working with young people. This successor text, Youth Work Practice is it’s equal in providing an intriguing update for all those studying or working with young people.


The art of helping others: Being around, being there, being wise

Heather Smith and Mark K Smith. Jessica Kingsley 2008

Click to look inside. Available in printed and digital versions. Available to read in the Internet Archive.

From the blurb: When searching for someone to help them reflect upon and improve their lives, people tend to be drawn towards those who are compassionate, committed and wise. This book is aimed at those who recognise these qualities in themselves and wish to develop their capacity to engage with and help others.

The authors argue for ways of approaching helping and counselling that are rooted in care and commitment, drawing upon the experiences and practice wisdom of youth workers, housing support and hostel workers, the clergy and those working in a religious setting, educators and settlement and community workers. They explore the key characteristics of those who counsel and teach and examine aspects of the helping process, focusing on living life well, knowing and being oneself, relating to others and working to make change possible.


Informal Education – conversation, democracy and learning

Tony Jeffs and Mark K Smith. Educational Heretics Press. 2005, 1999, 1996

Available to read in the Internet Archive.

From the blurb: Informal education has, in recent years, attracted a lot of interest amongst educationalists, health and welfare professionals and others. Why is this? Also, what is it, who does it, and how can it be developed? This book seeks to answer these questions and provide an introduction to informal education.

The writers explore how informal educators encourage conversation, democracy and learning. They also examine evaluation, working with process, living with values and planning. Each chapter includes a number of questions that help readers to explore their work.

Hopefully, the 2005 edition with soon be available in pdf (screen and print), epub (kobo and most Android and Apple reading apps) and mobi (kindle) versions. 


Born and bred

Born and Bred? Leadership, heart and informal education

Michele Erina Doyle and Mark K Smith. Rank Foundation 1999

Available to read in the Internet Archive.

From the blurb: Leadership, for us, is not about influencing groups and communities to follow a particular person’s vision, but rather working so that people may come together, flourish and build better lives.

Born and Bred? explores some key issues for educators about leadership. These include:

• The idea that leaders are people with special qualities.

• The experience of leadership as a shared process.

• The place of ‘heart’ in the work.

• The centrality of service, association, and well-being.

• The relationship between animation, formation, and education

• The special role informal educators can play in developing environments where people can take responsibility and have a concern for each other.


Social working

Social Working

Edited by Pam Carter, Tony Jeffs and Mark K Smith. London: Macmillan. 1995 pp. 192.

From the blurb: Social Working provides a framework for thinking about the daily (and not so daily) experiences of being a social worker. Each chapter of the book focuses on a key process including organising the daily round; keeping records; policing clients, counselling; educating; advising and advocating; living alongside; supervision of staff and teamworking.


Local education

Local education. Community, conversation, praxis

Mark K Smith. Open University Press 1994

Click to look inside. Available to read in the Internet Archive.

From the blurb: Drawing upon the experiences of adult and community educators, youth and community workers, Mark Smith examines the practice of educators who build up ways of working with local networks and cultures. Shops, launderettes, streets, bars, cafes and people’s houses are the settings for much of their work, and when they do appear in schools and colleges, they are most likely to be found in corridors, eating areas and student common-rooms. Their work is not organized by subject, syllabi or lessons; it is about conversation and community, a commitment to local democracy and self-organization, and is often unpredictable and risky.

Mark Smith offers an analysis of the subtle and difficult activity of intervening in other peoples’ lives, of conversing with purpose, and of engaging with people to broaden opportunity and to effect change in their lives and communities.


Social work and social welfare

Changing Social Work and Welfare

Edited by Pam Carter, Tony Jeffs and Mark K Smith.  Milton Keynes: Open University Press 1992

Available in the Internet Archive.

From the blurb: Social work and social welfare are changing. Alongside new social policies and legislation, many issues including “managerialism”, European Community integration and sexual harassment at work are presenting social workers with dilemmas. This book explores some of the key movements and developments and provides a unique insight into present and future practice.


Social Work and Social Welfare Yearbook 1   Social Work and Social Welfare Yearbook 2  Social Work and Social Welfare Yearbook 3

Social Work and Social Welfare Yearbook. Volumes 1-3

Edited by Pam Carter, Tony Jeffs and Mark K Smith.  Milton Keynes: Open University Press 1989-1991 pp. 224; pp. 218; pp. 222.

Available in the Internet Archive – Volume 2 + Volume 3.

Each year the Yearbook set out to provide a wide range of accessible and critical articles on current concerns in social work and social welfare. Material which:

  • updated and reviewed current and potential practice developments, policy changes and research;
  • allowed readers to maintain a broad perspective on social welfare;
  • facilitated critical debate.

Using informal education

Using informal education. An alternative to casework, teaching and control?

Edited by Tony Jeffs and Mark Smith. Open University Press 1990

Download: pdf (screen and print), epub (kobo and most Android and Apple reading apps) and mobi (kindle) versions. Also available to read in the Internet Archive.

From the preface: Debates about welfare practice tend to be confined within pro­fessional boundaries: teachers exploring group work will often make little reference to the thinking and experience of social workers and their exploration will largely be conditioned by the experience of one particular organizational or institutional form: ‘the school’. Yet one of the distinctive, and often neglected, features of the current situation in welfare practice is the extent to which certain forms transcend professional boundaries. Thinking and practice in informal education is one such arena.

We would not want to argue that social work is coming to resemble school teaching or youth work. Nor are we concerned here with looking for some grand underlying theory of welfare interven­tion. Rather, we want to enhance the practice of informal education by drawing together some key strands from different areas of welfare. This is particularly important in the case of informal education. Within the mainstream of, say, social work or teaching, informal education may be considered somewhat marginal. Yet when the informal educational activities of social workers are joined to those of probation officers, teachers, community workers, youth workers, and health workers, we have a significant body of practice and thinking that reveals the possibilities of informal education as a method in welfare work.

Contents: Using informal education – Tony Jeffs and Mark Smith • Personality and curriculum – Anne Foreman ·  Informal education in residential care with adults – Mal Blackburn and Don Blackburn · Informal education with young women in the community – Glynis Francis · Informal education – a place in the new school curriculum?  – using informal education – Dave Burley · Neighbourhood, crime and informal education – Debbie Saddington · Informal education – a Christian perspective – John Ellis · Informal education and working with carers – Pauline Gertig · Where practice enlightens theory and theory enriches practice – Elizabeth Afua Sinclair · Educating informal educators – Tony Jeffs and Mark Smith


Youth Work  Welfare and Youth Work Practice  Young People, Inequality and Youth Work

Young People, Inequality and Youth Work

Edited by Tony Jeffs and Mark Smith. London: Macmillan 1990. pp. 274.

From the blurb: Youth work has provided a setting for a number of significant innovations in welfare practice. These have included the development of work with girls and young women, the growth of lesbian and gay youth groups, the expansion of self-consciously black forms of provision, and innovations in approaches to disability. Even though successive governments have often sought to constrain and marginalise such work, progressive practice remains possible. This book explores the nature of inequalities experienced by young people and assesses emerging forms of practice.

Welfare and Youth Work Practice.

Edited by Tony Jeffs and Mark Smith. London: Macmillan 1988. pp. 290.

The book was available to read in the Internet Archive but thanks to debatable legal action by the big four publishers it is no longer able to be borrowed [unless you have print disabilities].

From the blurb: There has been growing concern and debate over the impact of social and economic change upon young people and the consequences of this for welfare practice. Within social policy, working with young people has become increasingly important. This book brings together a series of specially commissioned essays which direct attention to both the realities of youth work and the structuring of youth policy. In an area of welfare where the boundaries of responsibility and control are shaped by the competing interest of government, central and local, and a historically powerful voluntary sector, little has actually been written about those who specialise in this area or the structures and policy context in which they operate and from which policies emerge. Welfare and Youth Work Practice is designed to fill a number of long-standing gaps in the literature and thinking about youth work and youth policy.

Youth Work (BASW Practical Social Work Series).

Edited by Tony Jeffs and Mark Smith. London: Macmillan 1987. pp. 168.

The book was available to read in the Internet Archive – but thanks to debatable legal action by the big four publishers it is no longer able to be borrowed [unless you have print disabilities].

From the blurb: Written by practitioners who work with young people, this book explores their work within the context of the real world. Such is the range of work encountered that the words ‘youth work’ do not have a unique meaning. Many workers have to explain their function in terms such as social worker, community worker, educator, entrepreneur, ‘redcoat’, caretaker, casualty or character-builder. The contributors start from these common ways of describing what they do and explore their thinking and practice associated with each label, setting their function within a broader theoretical context.

Youth Work’s originality lies in the writers’ ability to use their experiences, make theory and, against all odds, apply it It is not a collection of handy hints, but rather an attempt by a group of practitioners to address the everyday experience of working with young people. Throughout the book, there is an air of optimism and a sense of excitement at the potential of youth work to make a positive contribution to welfare and educational practice and thinking.


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

Mark Smith. Open University Press. 1988.

Download: pdf (screen and print), epub (kobo and most Android and Apple reading apps) and mobi (kindle) versions. Available from the Internet Archive.

From the blurb: The Youth Service is in crisis. The rationale and practice of welfare are, generally under attack, and the development of other forms of provision (both public and commercial) for young people has pushed the Youth Service into something of a corner. Youth workers have increasingly become located within schooling, social services and leisure services. If practitioners are to retain a unique identity and distinctive forms of working, they must address a number of fundamental philosophical and political questions and develop the necessary theory to sustain their practice. In Developing Youth Work, Mark Smith begins to chart a coherent and distinctive understanding of this area of welfare practice.

He examines the development of youth work and the crisis it now faces, explores the key ideas that inform the ways in which youth workers see their tasks and, in particular, critiques the notion of social education. He argues that the real purpose of youth work should be to seek to enlarge young people’s understanding of their ’ own well-being so that they may weigh their own needs with those of others; help; them to display civic courage; and enable them to gain the knowledge, skills and disposition necessary to think and act politically. Central to this is firstly the concept of informal education and the idea of a critical dialogue between workers. and young people, amongst workers themselves, and amongst learners; and secondly an emphasis on mutual aid and self-organization. Mark Smith argues that this kind of re-appraisal of theory and practice is essential to the development of genuinely popular youth work. 


Organise! A guide to practical politics for youth groups and community groups

Mark Smith. NAYC Publications 1981. 

This book explored and explained the practical tasks and approaches to local organizing. It grew out of the work of the Political Education Project based at NAYC and funded by the Department for Education and Science. The Department was concerned about the growth of the National Front and sought to develop alternative approaches to combating its influence. It was designed to be photocopied and had two-page spreads on each topic covered. Organise! sold well to local youth groups and community groups – and was used by a number of schools.

Elements of the book were picked up by the BBC and used for a Radio 4 series Joining Together. It was also translated into German and reworked as Ideen Stark Machen. Organisations-Handbuch fùr Initiativen, Unna: LKD Verlag. 1997.


Pamphlets and booklets

Political Education. Developing approaches in the community

Political Education. Developing approaches in the community  

Mark Smith Youth and Policy Occasional Paper 4. Newcastle: Youth and Policy 1987. pp. 64 (A4).

Download: pdf (screen and print), epub (kobo and most Android and Apple reading apps) and mobi (kindle) versions.

Comparatively little has been written about the practice of political education in settings outside the classroom. This paper looks to redress some of this neglect. Rather than provide accounts of practice the writer has tried to set out some of the main intellectual debates concerning political education and to construct an analytical framework for understanding the work that is occurring. It explores the nature of the work, and how it has evolved within youth work and community activity generally; and finds that some significant, contrasting forms of political education were developing.


Questions for Survival

Questions for survival. Some problems of political education and how to combat them

Mark Smith. NAYC Publications 1984.

Soon available in pdf (screen and print), epub (kobo and most Android and Apple reading apps) and mobi (kindle) versions.

This booklet explores some of the key problems and questions that educators face when they engage in political education. It sets out why they should be concerned with it and some of the ways in which they can work with people to deepen understanding and take action. Particular attention is given to the ways in which practitioners can extend boundaries and the nature of the difficulties in working in contested areas.

Written in a committed and direct way, Questions for Survival contains a wealth of practical advice as well as posing fundamental questions about the way political education is practised. Like Organise! below, it was a product of the NAYC Political Education Project. 


Creators not consumers

Creators not Consumers: Rediscovering social education

Mark K Smith. NAYC Publications 1980, 1982. 

Download: pdf (screen and print), epub (kobo and most Android and Apple reading apps) and mobi (kindle) versions. Available from the Internet Archive.

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 happiness and self-confidence of individuals and for the strengthening of community life. Second, there is an invitation for workers to embrace and explore their educational role. These two themes help to explain the sub-title – rediscovering social education.

Clearly, things have changed in English work with young people since this booklet was written. The space for open, associational work of this kind has been severely limited – particularly, within state-sponsored settings; and the values of the market, and individual consumption, have become even more dominant. However, Creators not Consumers remains relevant to contemporary informal educators and social pedagogues because it makes the case for associational and communal life and questions consumption.

Originally published by NAYC Publications (now Youth Clubs UK). First published in August 1980. Reprinted October 1980. Second Edition January 1982.


Other edited collections

Youth or Adult? Working Papers London: YMCA National College/Rank Foundation, 1988. (Edited plus one chapter). pp. 64.

The Challenge for Voluntary Youth Work Organizations. London: YMCA National College/Rank Foundation, 1991. (Edited plus three chapters). pp. 68.

Youth or Adult? The first five years, London: YMCA National College/Rank Foundation. 1993, (Edited plus 2 chapters). pp. 108

Setting Up and Managing Projects. London: YMCA National College/Rank Foundation 1994, (Edited plus introduction). pp. 80. (A4).

updated: February 14, 2024