Ohliger Book

If you would like to read more about the contributions of John Ohliger to adult education, we suggest… 

Challenging the Professionalization of Adult Education:
John Ohliger and Contradictions in Modern Practice

by André P. Grace (Editor), Tonette S. Rocco (Editor), and Michael R. Welton (Foreword)

Jacket Copy:

Challenging the Professionalization of Adult Education reminds readers of a vital tradition of radical, community-based, activist adult education championed in the life and work of John Ohliger. Leading figures in the field examine the contemporary relevance of Ohliger’s contributions and the profound and powerful influence that he had on the social philosophy, pedagogy, and practice of adult education.

John Ohliger was a radical educator who deeply valued social democracy. Many of his contemporaries found his extreme liberal approach to adult education problematic and peripheral to the professionalization they believed modern practice required. The authors of this volume offer insight into Ohliger’s eclectic collection of writings and present a comprehensive assessment of the contributions of this important figure. They explore Ohliger’s roles as an adult educator, social activist, and cultural worker, investigating his varied career and diverse educational, social, and cultural interests by examining his perspectives on media usage, labor education, mandatory continuing education, civic education, social education, and library and community work.

The authors also reflect on the legacy of John Ohliger’s contributions to modern practice and the tensions his critique of adult education created. Gathering the many threads of Ohliger’s influence into one volume, this invaluable collection helps clarify John Ohliger’s unwavering goal: to assist adult educators to become more socially conscious facilitators who remember the historical emphases on voluntary learning and learning for citizenship in North American adult education.


“John Ohliger made you angry, made you think, made you laugh, made you want to sing, made you read literature late into the night and poetry when you might have been working. His remarkable story is of the making of the most influential adult education intellectual in the United States of the twentieth century working outside the university. Grace and Rocco deliver the goods on this complex and challenging activist adult educator.”?
—Budd Hall, director, Office of Community- Based Research, University of Victoria?

“I met John Ohliger just once. He was a crusty, challenging, eccentric, wonderful man. This is a remarkable book about that wonderful man, in which you can hear Ohliger’s own voice and then read a whole crowd of leading thinkers in the field of adult education reflecting on his legacy. You do not get this kind of quality thinking between two covers too often.”
—Michael Newman, author, Teaching Defiance?

“John Ohliger was a quite unique adult educator and he made his impression on American adult education. Educators should know his work and this book provides an excellent introduction to it. The authors are to be commended for making it known to a new generation.”
—Peter Jarvis, editor, International Journal of Lifelong Education?

Editor Bios:

André P. Grace is McCalla Research Professor and director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services in the Faculty of Education, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Tonette S. Rocco is associate professor and program leader of the Adult Education and Human Resource Development Program at Florida International University. She is a Cyril O. Houle Scholar.

Additional Chapter Contributors:

Stephen Brookfield
Michael Collins
Phyllis M. Cunningham
Lee Karlovic
Elizabeth J. Tisdell
Christina Wagner
Michael R. Welton
David Yamada

…and including selected works of John Ohliger

Cost: $40
Available from Amazon and Jossey-Bass