The Antigonish Movement - Moses Coady and Adult Education Today

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The Antigonish Movement

Moses Coady and Adult Education Today

By: Anne Alexander

In this book, Anne Alexander examines background to this important movement, its activities, and the individuals involved, in order to show its continuing relevance to practitioners of adult education today.

ISBN 978-1-55077-080-3
Edition First
Year 1997
Page Count 252

$ 29.95


Can there be a greater challenge for us to ponder than Moses Coady's exhortation to his fellow Nova Scotians: "Shape your own destiny!"? Then, in the 1930s, as now, many people believed that the problems and injustices of life resulted from forces beyond their control. Moses Coady could not have disagreed more. With missionary zeal he implored people to change themselves and their society. Liberation, he insisted, could be achieved through adult education. Do we today have the confidence to make such a claim?

The Antigonish Movement is a symbol of an activist heritage in adult education. In this book, Anne Alexander examines the background of this important movement, its activities, and the individuals involved, in order to show its continuing relevance to practitioners of adult education today. "It is time that we had another full-length study of the Antigonish Movement, Moses Coady, his work and his ideas. This one is the best of them all. Alexander is successful in placing Coady and his idea in the intellectual setting of his day." — Gordon Selman, Professor of Adult Education, University of British Columbia.

"Alexander presents a thorough understanding of the values and methods that distinguished Moses Coady's efforts in the 1930s and 1940s for social change in Nova Scotia and beyond through adult education. She also launches a serious critique of today's adult educators who no longer form a social reform movement. It is a particularly timely work when the free market system and big governments still fail to deal with what was Coady's main concern, the growing gap between rich and poor." — Bernard M. Daly, Publisher-Emeritus, The Catholic Register.

"This is a lucidly written study of Moses Coady and his ideas. It clearly positions the Antigonish movement in its historical and religious context. It is by far the best introduction available to this important phenomenon. Whether or not one agrees with its premise that adult education professionals should be social activists and here the Coady model is persuasive — it offers a fresh interpretation, a lively read and makes a major contribution to the history of the Maritimes in the period." — Ernest R. Forbes, Professor of History, University of New Brunswick.

Table of Contents


  • Taking The Fire
  • Moses Coady: A Sketch of the Person
  • Education
  • His Kindred Spirit
  • His Work: A Sketch
  • A Person of Metaphors, Forthrightness and Wrestler Physique
  • Historical Background: Themes of the Times
  • Approaches to Maritime Historiography: The Conventional View and Recent Revisions
  • Themes of the Times: 1920s and 1930s
  • Setting the Stage
  • The Setting Of The Antigonish Movement
  • Eastern Nova Scotia: Historical, Social, and Economic Context
  • Eastern Nova Scotia: Religious Influences
  • The Development Of The Antigonish Movement
  • The First Stage of Early Development, 1912-22
  • The Second Stage of Early Development, 1924-1930
  • The Work of the Antigonish Movement
  • The Philosophical Underpinnings of the Antigonish Movement
  • Program and Activities: A Beginning Point
  • The Antigonish Movement Trademarks: The Study Club and the Mass Meeting
  • Organizational Support
  • Working with Others
  • Cooperatives: The Economic Technique
  • Origins and Growth
  • Credit Unions
  • Industrial Workers' Program
  • Women's Programs
  • Evaluative and Analytical Perspectives: Through Others' Eyes
  • Discovering the Thread
  • Identifying Themes
  • Tracing a Link
  • Foundational Perspectives: From Coady's Point of View
  • The Linking Thread: Adult Education as It Ought to Be
  • Unlocking Life for All the People
  • A Society Divided
  • Educational System
  • Social System
  • Means of Change
  • Interpreting Coady's Ideas in His Times: Unlocking Life for All the People
  • Encouraging Real Thinking
  • The Nature of Real Thinking
  • Interpreting Coady in His Era: Adult Education Encourages Real Thinking
  • Enabling People To Live Fully
  • Living Fully
  • Affirming the Capabilities of All to Live Fully
  • Changing Society So that All Might Live Fully
  • Program of Reform to Change Society
  • Vision of Freedom in Society
  • Adult Educators as Agents of Change
  • Responsive Adult Education Structures
  • Keeping the Spark Alive
  • "Only the Beginning"
  • Interpreting Coady in His Era: Adult Education Enables People to Live Fully
  • Coady and Adult Education Practice: Affirming Its Social Purpose
  • The Fire of the Past: Liberation in Adult Education
  • A Challenge For Adult Education: Coady's Ideas Today
  • Striking a Chord of Similarity
  • Recognizing Differences
  • Coady's Ideas: Suggesting Directions Today
  • The Meaning of Liberation: Coady's Perspective
  • Taking the Fire or Scattering the Ashes?
  • Professionalization
  • Critiquing the Current Trend towards Professionalization
  • Concluding Reflections: Taking the Fire
  • Shaping Our Own Destiny

About the Author

Anne Alexander
University of Alberta

Anne Alexander holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto and a PhD in adult education from the University of Alberta. She has experience both as an adult educator and as a professor.