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71 John Ohliger

Page history last edited by kkenned4@... 12 years, 9 months ago

November 11, 1926- January 25, 2004



Personal Data

Born in Cleveland, Ohio  

Grew up in Detroit, Michigan  

Considered Madison, Wisconsin to be his "true home"  

Married: Lori Millon (1963); Christina "Chris" Wagner (1989)  

Stepchildren: Michelle Millon, Devon Millon, Marc Millon




1951- B.A. in Social Sciences and Speech- Wayne University; Detroit, Michigan  

1957- M.A. Adult Education- UCLA; Berkeley, California  

1960- Advanced Study in Adult Education- University of Chicago; Chicago, Illinois  

1966- Ph.D. Adult Education- UCLA; Berkeley, California 




1945-48- Information Specialist,Teacher,Newspaper Reporter, Message Center Chief, U.S. Army, West Germany

1948-51- Teaching Assistant: Speech Department, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

1951-54- Educational Representative: he organized a bookstore, and taught speech classes to local union members, Michigan CIO Council, Detroit, Michigan

1954-56- Administrative Assistant to the Vice-President, Sun Battery Company, Santa Ana, California

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

1958-59- Senior Staff member, American Foundation for Continuing Education, Chicago, Illinois

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

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

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

1964-66- Assistant University Extension specialist (helped train some of the first Peace Corps volunteers), UCLA, Berkeley, California

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

1967-73- Assistant and Associate Professor in Adult Education (also served as Faculty Advisor for Vietnam Vets Against the War, worked with activists at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, and with the renowned adult educator, Ivan Illich, in Mexico), Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

1973-74- Visiting Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Division of Program and Staff Development, Madison, WI. (In 1973 he joined four others, was organizing secretary and one of the founders of WORT-FM Radio. He hosted a radio program, the Madison Review of Books; anyone, including children, could review a book.

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

1977-2004- Founder and co-director of Basic Choices, Inc., a midwestern center for clarifying political and social options, Madison, WI. For several years, he published a newsletter, Second Thoughts, in which he gave voice to his strong opposition to cumpulsory education, especially the move to force more and more adults to go back to school. John believed that learning is too precious to be forced; learning must be joyous, individual, and voluntary. He also worked for several years as a library clerk at the University of Wisconsin College Library. John moved to Springfield, IL, for three years in 1989, as his wife's work took her there. While there, he helped to start the Heartland Peach Center during the Gulf War. He also taught philosophy of education at Sangamon State University and worked at the SIU School of Medicine Library.  


Awards and Honors

Ivan D. Illich Award Recipient  

Recipient of an annual award from the Adult Education Association for his contributions to mass media 



Membership-Professional Organizations

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

Alpha Epsilon Rho

Canadian Association of Adult Education.

National Association of Educational Broadcasters (committee member, 1967)

Phi Delta Kappa (committee member, 1968)




Co-editor, Second Thoughts, 1978-1984

Consulting Editor, Adult Education, 1968 

Consulting Editor, Adult Education Quarterly, 1986-1989.

Consulting Editor, Education Broadcast Review, 1970-1971.

Editor, Mass Media/Adult Education, 1967-1973.

Editor, Educational Broadcast Review, 1969-1970.

Editorial Work, Adult Leadership, Media and Adult Learning, and Media Interbang, various times.

Ohliger, J. (1973). Accent on social philosophy. Adult Leadership22, p. 144.

Ohliger, J. F. (1974). The media activists. Mass Media/Adult Education, no. 39 (Spring).

Ohliger, J. F. (1974). Is lifelong adult education a guarantee of permanent inadequacy? Convergence, 7(2).

Ohliger, J. F. (1975). Sour grapes and the international society. Mass Media/Adult Education, no. 41 (Summer).

Ohliger, J. F. (1975). A jaundiced view of a learning society. Journal of Extension (July/August).

Ohliger, J. F. (1975). Prospects for a learning society. Adult Leadership, 24.

Ohliger, J. F. The Wisconsin idea: Some reflections on historical context and issues. Research in Education (November).

Ohliger, J. F. (1975). Media and adult learning: A bibliography with abstracts, annotations, and quotations. New York: Garland Publications, 1975.

Ohliger, J. F. (1979). Alternative media: Up to your ass in alligators. Media/Adult Learning, no. 50 (Summer).

Ohliger, J. F. (1979). Radical ideas in adult education. Radical Teacher (March).

Ohliger, J. F. (1980). Must we all go back to school? The Progressive (October).

Ohliger, J. F. (1980). Searching for balance, Coping with Threats, Looking for Opportunities. Setting the Pace (March).

Ohliger, J.(1980). The social uses of theorizing in adult education. Adult Education, 31, 48-53.

Ohliger, J. F. (1981). Dialogue on mandatory continuing education. Lifelong Learning: The Adult Years, 4(June).

Ohliger, J. F. (1982). Is J. Edgar Hoover a virgin?. Media/Adult Learning, 4(1).

Ohliger, J. F. (1982). Review of 1st 14 years of Media and Adult Learning. Media/Adult Learning (January).

Ohliger, J. F. (1982) Media and the American mind. Lifelong Learning: The Adult Years (May).

Ohliger, J. F. (1982). Lifelong learning as nightmare. In R. Gross (Ed.), Invitation to lifelong learning. Chicago: Follett Publishing, Inc.

Ohliger, J. F (1983). Continuing education for professionals: Voluntary or mandatory? Journal of Higher Education, 5(5).

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

Ohliger, J. F. (1983/84). The Tao of adult education. The Learning Connection (December 1983/January 1984).

Ohliger, J. F. (1984). Power and conflict in continuing professional education. Journal of Higher Education (September/October).

Ohliger, J. F. (1985). The final solution to learning opportunities. Tranet (Summer).

Ohliger, J. F. (1987). Really creative conferences. Media/Adult Learning.

Ohliger, J. F. (1990). Alternative images of the future in adult education. In S. B. Merriam & P. M. Cunningham (Eds.), Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

John Ohliger wrote over 200 other publications, many of which were featured in journals. 


Professional Interest Areas


Freedom from the slavery that social norms and education place on adults


Lifelong education.

Listening groups

Mandatory continuing education

Mass media


Political action

Political education

Radical adult education

Voluntary continuing education


Major Contributions to Adult Education

Many adult educators and philosophers have disagreed with Ohliger throughout the years. On the whole, Ohliger spent much of his time developing and implementing radical practices in adult education. He prized peace and political discussion. Though many view his ideas as "liberal," he viewed his ideas as giving adults freedom from the educational and political systems. He left Ohio State University because of his views.  


Additional Resources






Photo Gallery








Interesting Facts

Ohliger wrote an article Billy Joel: The Fire, The Facts, The Story. The 30 page article outlines everything Joel mentions in his song. Ohliger encourages adult educators to discuss songs like We Didn't Start the Fire because it would stimulate so many political ideas and because it would bring so many historical facts to the forefront.  


 Heimstra, Roger. "John F. Ohliger Personal Vita." John Ohliger Peronal Vita. Syracuse University, 17 June 1990. Web. 3 July 2011. http://www-distance.syr.edu/pvitajfo.html


"John Ohliger." International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame - Oklahoma Center of Continuing Education at the University of Oklahoma - Founder Dr. Thurman J. White. Web. 3 July 2011. http://www.halloffame.outreach.ou.edu/2002/ohliger.html.


"John Ohliger Obituary." John Ohliger :: Institute For Social Inquiry. JohnOhliger.org, 2004. Web. 3 July 2011. http://johnohliger.org/artman/publish/article_7.shtml.








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