From John

Selected Articles by John Ohliger
Hidden Hits

Hidden Hits
By John Ohliger
October 22, 1990

This is the third in an occasional sub-series of columns on people who fulfill Socrates’ declaration, “Those most in repute are all but the most foolish; and others less esteemed are wiser and better.” The first two columns were in the April 10th and September 25th, 1989 issues of ACET. This one focuses on four people whose work would be quickly honored in a good society. Instead they are each responsible for “hidden hits,” adult education efforts that haven’t received the public attention they deserve.

Blanca Facundo completed the best and most readable writing ever done on Paulo Freire, the world-renowned Brazilian adult educator, several years ago. The 140-page paper, Issues for an Evaluation of Freire-Inspired Programs in the U.S. & Puuerto Rico, is at the same time sympathetic and respectfully critical. But because Freire has become an icon, hailed uncritically on all sides as an adult education saint, Blanca’s paper has been neglected. Freire’s denunciation of its friendly but challenging conclusions hasn’t helped either. If you know very little about Freire, Blanca’s paper is a good place to start because it provides excellent biographical and political background. Judge for yourself. Order it from ERIC as ED 243 998 by calling their 24-hour toll free number 1-800-227-ERIC. Of course, you can also read it at any of the many libraries that maintain ERIC microfiche collections. Then communicate with Blanca about your views. I’ve been corresponding with her for going on ten years and I guarantee you’ll find her letters rewarding as well as bracing.

Sometimes a book on a universally respected figure remains unpublished because it doesn’t fit any of the rigid categories of mainstream publishers. That’s what happened to Betty Lindeman Leonard’s biography of her illustrious father, the great adult educator Eduard Lindeman (see my column in the June 19, 1990 ACET.) To most publishers the manuscript seemed too personal to be a biography or too biographical to be a memoir. It was to informal to attract university presses but too filled with fascinating detail to attract popular publishers. However -– GOOD NEWS! -- Adamant Press (Box 7, Adamant, VT 05640) has just offered to publish Betty’s Friendly Rebel: The Life of Eduard Lindeman next Spring. Drop a note to Adamant Press now for further information so you can be the first person on you block (or in your institution) to own a copy. I’ve read the manuscript and can assure you it’s full of exciting writing about an important figure in adult education history who is not treated here as if he were a saint. When I finished it I wanted to read much more. Betty is a longtime adult educator herself and she knows whereof she speaks!

Dick Freeman (130 W. Limestone, Yellow Springs, OH 45387) has just created a hidden hit based on a hidden hit. About 2,500 years ago in ancient China there appeared the 5,000 word work, Tao Te Ching, said to have been prepared by the legendary adult educator Lao Tzu. In modern days the work, divided into 81 brief poetic passages, has been translated more times than others except the Bible. It is now the number two all-time world best seller, has provided guidance for the lives of millions of people and has influenced many of the world’s philosophies and religions. Many people consider it an important aid in moving toward a better society through adult learning and unlearning. Though it’s a best seller, the Tao Te Ching is a hidden hit because it has appeared under so many different titles that it is hard to find. Dick Freeman has prepared the only humorous rendering of the over fifty I’ve read. Dick’s irreverent, lusty, at times profane, even offensive to the overly serious, but the translation and accompanying commentary is more profound and more helpful than many of the more conventional versions. It’s available from Dick for only two dollars on a MacWrite small computer disc (easily convertible to another disc or to a paper copy.)

Finally, here “in my own backyard” -— Springfield -— there is Mbanna Kantako (Dewayne Readus, 333N. 12th St, Springfield, IL 62702) and his illegal radio station. The Federal Communications has ordered Mbanna off the air but he continues to broadcast to his public housing project and the surrounding area. The FCC has made it illegal to start a station without a substantial investment of many thousands of dollars, but Mbanna did it with only a few hundred dollars as a way for minority activists and the poor to engage in adult education and community organization. Mbanna’s work is just beginning to attract national attention and other such stations are springing up around the country. Write Mbanna Kantako for further information and consider enclosing a donation to help keep him and others like him on the air.

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