John Funnell Ohliger Vita

The Adult Education History Project

Based on Information in the Syracuse University Library Archives

Translated for the WWW by Roger Hiemstra








John Ohliger.


[John Funnell Ohliger; J. Ohliger; John F. Ohliger]



Edited by Roger Hiemstra from data compiled by Andrew Goldstein, ATE 600 Historical Perspectives student, Fall, 1989, and compilers for published resource guides.



Selected archival materials at Syracuse University, Arents Library, will provide some assistance.  Other support would come from John Ohliger and his materials through Basic Choices, Inc., Springfield, IL.


[sources:  Andrew Goldstein; Roger Hiemstra]


Married in 1963.  He has three children.  John Ohliger is alive and well and working at a rapid pace.  He has been involved in adult education for over 35 years as a professor, administrator, author, trainer, speaker, researcher, organizer, bibliographer, critic, and volunteer in such aspects of the field as philosophy, political education, media, discussion group leadership, university extension, community colleges, liberal arts, and labor education.  He is quite outspoken in his views of adult education.  Dr. Ohliger considers himself a "radical" adult educator.  By his definition, he considers all radical educators as those individuals who "get to the root of the issues and work toward fundamental social change for the better."  I (Andrew Goldstein) spoke with him by telephone when I was trying to augment the spotty information covered in LEADERS IN EDUCATION.  The literature ceased with his appointment to Ohio State University as an associate professor.  When I asked him what followed, he stated that he "left" Ohio State in 1973 to "pursue other options"  [and after some disagreement with Ohio State administrators].  This intrigued me.  After reviewing his resume, I must agree with his self description as a "radical educator."  He, however, conceives of "radical" in a different light.  Radical, to him, means working for fundamental social change through the balance of a just social order based on human rationality and the fostering of spontaneous freedom through true community.  The "social change," as fostered by the university, served, apparently, to stifle him.  In an article about philosophy as a guide to individual action, Dr. Ohliger points a condemning, albeit, subtle finger at his (at the time) employers, Ohio State, and at institutions, in general.  He says,facetiously, that we don't need guides to action anymore; "no moral or ethical guides to social action.  They just get in the way.  If we stood up for what we believed in, we might get fired or at the very least frowned on by our bosses or our fellow employees. . . . being an adult educator is just a job . . . . right?   It's not our fault if the result of our work further enmeshes people in the web of institutional slavery.  We're just doing our job.  Like Adolph Eichmann."  The article in which this statement was contained was written during his tenure at Ohio State, but was rejected for publication by ADULT LEADERSHIP.  Perhaps Dr. Ohliger is a radical, but as a proponent of social change, he appears true to his convictions.


[source:  LEADERS IN EDUCATION, 5th ed., 1974]








LEADERS IN EDUCATION, 5th ed., 1974.





1948-51--A.B., Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

1956-57--M.A., Adult Education, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.

1958-60--Advanced study in Adult Education, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

1964-66--Ed.D., Adult Education, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.


[source:  LEADERS IN EDUCATION, 5th ed., 1974]


1945-48--Information Specialist/Teacher/Writer, U.S. Army, West Germany.

1948-51--Teaching Assistant, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

1951-54--Educational Representative, Michigan CIO Council, Detroit, MI.

1954-56--Administrative Assistant to the Vice-President, Sun Battery, Santa Ana, CA.

1956-58--Principal extension representative to Adult Education, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.

1958-59--Senior staff member, American Foundation for Continuing Education [AFCE], Chicago, IL.

1959-60--Area Director and Administrative Assistant to the President of the Great Books Foundation, Chicago, IL.

1960-61--Assistant Coordinator for Labor Programs, Industrial Relations, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

1961-64--Public Affairs and News Director for Pacifica Foundation's radio stations, KPFA & KPFK, Los Angeles and Berkeley, CA.

1964-66--Assistant University Extension Specialist, UCLA, Berkeley, CA.

1966-67--Director of Continuing Education at Selkirk College, Castlegar, British Columbia.

1967-73--Assistant and Associate Professor in Adult Education, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

1973-74--Visiting Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Division of Program and Staff Development, Madison, WI.

1974-77--Freelance teacher, speaker, consultant.  Teaching assignments included University of Saskatchewan and Florida International University.  Speaking engagements included Temple University, Florida State University [FSU], and Center for Intercultural Documentation (Cuernavaca, Mexico).

1977-present--Founder and co-director of Basic Choices, Inc., a midwestern center for clarifying political and social options, Springfield, IL.


[sources:  LEADERS IN EDUCATION, 5th ed., 1974; John Ohliger]


Adult education.





Listening groups

Mandatory continuing education.

Mass media.

Political action.


Radical adult education.

Voluntary continuing education.


[sources:  Andrew Goldstein; Roger Hiemstra]


Brightman, Sam.

Cunningham, Phyllis.

Illich, Ivan.

Freire, Paulo.


[sources:  Andrew Goldstein; Roger Hiemstra]


Adult Education Association of the USA (section chairman, 1967) [AEA-USA].

Alpha Epsilon Rho.

Canadian Association of Adult Education [CAEA].

National Association of Educational Broadcasters (committee member, 1967).

Phi Delta Kappa (committee member, 1968).


[source:  LEADERS IN EDUCATION, 5th ed., 1974]


Co_editor, SECOND THOUGHTS, 1978-1984

Consultant for Fund for Adult Education, 1956-1959.

Consultant for National Instructional T.V. Center, 1969-1970.

Consulting Editor,ADULT EDUCATION, 1968.

Consulting Editor, ADULT EDUCATION QUARTERLY, 1986-1989.

Consulting Editor, EDUCATIONAL BROADCAST REVIEW, 1970-1971.




Establishment of Basic Choices, Inc., 1977.


[sources:  LEADERS IN EDUCATION, 5th ed., 1974; John Ohliger]


Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

Selkirk College, Castlegar, British Columbia.

Springfield, IL.

Syracuse University [SU], Syracuse, NY.

University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

University of California at Los Angeles [UCLA], Los Angeles, CA.

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.

Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.


[sources:  LEADERS IN EDUCATION, 5th ed., 1974; John Ohliger]


Numerous articles, monographs, and book chapters. Some selected materials are as follows:

Ohliger, John.  Accent on social philosophy.  ADULT LEADERSHIP 22 (1973):  144.


Ohliger, John F.  The media activists.  MASS MEDIA/ADULT EDUCATION, no. 39(Spring 1974).


Ohliger, John F.  Is lifelong adult education a guarantee of permanent inadequacy?  CONVERGENCE 7, no. 2 (1974).


Ohliger, John F.  Sour grapes and the international society.  MASS MEDIA/ADULT EDUCATION, no. 41 (Summer 1975).


Ohliger, John F.  A jaundiced view of a learning society.  JOURNAL OF EXTENSION  (July/August 1975).


Ohliger, John F.  Prospects for a learning society.  ADULT LEADERSHIP 24 (1975).


Ohliger, John F.  The Wisconsin idea:  Some reflections on historical context and issues.  RESEARCH IN EDUCATION  (Nov. 1975).




Ohliger, John F.  Alternative media:  Up to your ass in alligators.  MEDIA/ADULT LEARNING, no. 50 (Summer 1979).


Ohliger, John F.  Radical ideas in adult education.  RADICAL TEACHER (March,1979).


Ohliger, John F.  Must we all go back to school?  THE PROGRESSIVE (October 1980).


Ohliger, John F. Searching for balance, Coping with Threats, Looking for Opportunities.  SETTING THE PACE (March 1980).


Ohliger, John.  The social uses of theorizing in adult education.  ADULT EDUCATION 31 (1980):  48-53.

Ohliger, John F. Dialogue on mandatory continuing education.  LIFELONG LEARNING:  THE ADULT YEARS 4 (June 1981).

Ohliger, John F.  Is J. Edgar Hoover a virgin?.  MEDIA/ADULT LEARNING  4, no. 1 (1982).

Ohliger, John F.  Review of 1st 14 years of Media and Adult Learning.  MEDIA AND ADULT LEARNING (January 1982).


Ohliger, John F.  Media and the American mind.  LIFELONG LEARNING:  THE ADULT YEARS (May 1982).


Ohliger,John F.  Lifelong learning as nightmare.  In INVITATION TO LIFELONG LEARNING, edited by Ronald Gross.  Chicago:  Follett Publishing, Inc. 1982.


Ohliger, John F  Continuing education for professionals:  Voluntary or mandatory?-Comment. .  JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION 53, no. 5 (1982).


Ohliger, John F.  Reconciling education with liberty.  PROSPECTS, (UNESCO Quarterly Journal of Education) (May 1983).


Ohliger, John F.  The Tao of adult education.  THE LEARNING CONNECTION (December 1983/January 1984).


Ohliger, John F.  Power and conflict in continuing professional education.  JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION (September/October 1984).


Ohliger, John F.  The final solution to learning opportunities.  TRANET (Summer 1985).


Ohliger, John F.  Really creative conferences.  MEDIA AND ADULT LEARNING (1987).


Ohliger,John F.  Alternative images of the future in adult education.  In HANDBOOK OF ADULT AND COCONTINUING EDUCATION, edited by Sharan B. Merriam and Phyllis M. Cunningham, 628-639.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.


[sources:  LEADERS IN EDUCATION, 5th ed.,1974; John Ohliger]






In addition to following normal manuscript citation conventions, include these elements when citing records found "electronically" through The Adult Education History Project: Main entry, Title, Item number, and, if a specific image is being cited, Component number. Mention, too, that the record was found in "/history.html, an Electronic Source for Syracuse University Library's database for archives and manuscripts".




[Postscript: John was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2002.]




Created on May 7, 2002


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