First Person Plural: A Community Development Approach to Social Change


162 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55164-025-2
DDC 303.4






Edited by Ted Jackson
Reviewed by George G. Ambury

George G. Ambury is an associate professor of adult education at
Queen’s University.


This collection of writings by one of Canada’s great adult
educationalists is a significant addition to the literature on the rise
of the adult education movement in this country. David Smith, along with
people like Ted Jackson and Ned Corbett, was at the forefront of this

First Person Plural describes Smith’s return to Ontario in 1953 to
try his hand at community development. Three of the principles that
emerged during this period were the importance of structural change in
society, the centrality of people’s study groups, and the need to
avoid using experts whenever possible. Smith later found a more
congenial work environment in Saskatchewan under the CCF government. He
has always had little patience with people and organizations who claim
to do adult education but are already co-opted by capitalism and its
values. As to the priority for adult education today, he writes that
“[t]he most import thing we must do is to recover or create an
overview, an ideology grounded in historical analysis and based on a
belief in the equality and worth of men and women everywhere.” Behind
this deceptively simple book is the brilliant analytical mind of a


Smith, David., “First Person Plural: A Community Development Approach to Social Change,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,