From John Ohliger.org
Basic Choices November 1985, Vol. 1 No. 1.
ABOUT BASIC CHOICES
In the late seventies there was little knowledge about or contact between those adult educators who had alternative views or were progressive in their ideology. At this time John Ohliger, who had already cut his ties with mainstream ideology by resigning the professoriate, together with Vern Vissick and Art Lloyd, organized Basic Choices in Madison, Wisconsin for the purpose of having a Center to clarify political and social options. Though John's major concern was compulsory adult education (now called Mandatory Continuing Education), he became the "lightning rod" around which a number of concerns coalesced. Thus, in the rump conference in 1977 at AEA in Detroit, a loosely formed coalition came together.
The newsletter, Second Thoughts, became a place to communicate and to build networks. Issues such as participatory research, MCE, independent learning, worker ownership, free university, and peace education were addressed. Energy developed among and between individuals to come together at Highlander to discuss agendas firsthand. From the Highlander meeting the issue of MCE became the rallying point for collective action. The AEA meeting in Boston in 1979 was the place where the battle was pitched. It was for me the first time the gauntlet was thrown down and collective action taken to challenge the hegemony of the "main streamers"/"Technicists"/"elitists."
My analysis leads me to think that it was that concrete action which became a catalyst affecting many of the groups organized around different issues in adult education. Today the landscape looks quite different. There a numerous organized groups such as Participatory Research, Peace Education, "Action Linkage," worker ownership, cooperative movement, popular education, and places such as Highlander, Twin Streams, University of Man (sic), the Lindeman Center which are well known to adult educators. There are more visible alternatives; there is a more established dialogue. This leads us then to the question of the role that Basic Choices should play in 1985. That is the question which will be discussed in Milwaukee. (PC)
JOHN OHLIGER EDITORIAL
We are presenting an experimental issue of this new newsletter to test the hope that a new spirit is rising in Adult educationland. Our title, Basic Choices, points to that spirit -- a growing concern among adult educators to focus on worthwhile priorities leading toward fundamental social change. Such concerns fit well with a still vague, but growing trend in world society to move in the same direction.
Among adult educators we've seen this spirit in many places, publications, conferences,workshops, and classes. Examples include Allen Tough's call for a new emphasis on "fundamental priorities," Roger Boshier's papers and speeches in a similar vein, and other activities noted in articles in this newsletter.
Though the outlines are still far from clear, two rhetorical poles of this spirit are obvious in these two slogans: "With the world on fire, how can we be concerned with personal problems?" and "We can't cure the world, until we cure ourselves." These may be the"basic choices" in rhetorical terms, but it is increasingly obvious that adult educators and others are beginning to see the importance of going beyond "either/or" choices. We hope the new-spirit will find ways of combining personal and political choices in paths that creatively change both aspects of life, which can never really be separated anyway.
As we look for smidgens of hope, let's not fall back into the old left/right dichotomies, but let's not ignore the so-called "political realities" either. It's a good sign that President Reagan went beyond the old belief in the neutrality of science when he said a few weeks ago that "value-free education is a contradiction in terms." But the nation's No. 1"adult educator" used this bit of wisdom as an argument for prayers in the public schools.
It's our prayer that this newsletter will help spark further discussion among adult educators and others about what should be the priorities, bearing in mind that, for the first time, it means that all programs of adult education are not equally deserving of support. That's a step ahead in our view as we begin to recognize the limits of adult education in the modest but healthy world of the future. (JO)
FROM: MALCOLM S. KNOWLES
When I read Phyllis's letter regarding the need for pieces for the Newsletter it occurred to me that this would be a good time to have something about Eduard Lindeman's contributions to the concept of adult education's role in social action."As you may know, David Stewart, 5557 Hamlet Place, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, is in the final stages of preparing a biography on Ed, and his manuscript is loaded with his statements on this subject."I suggest that you write to David and invite him to do a piece within whatever space limitations you require."
Social Action as the Inevitable Outcome of Adult Education: Eduard Lindeman's View
Is self-improvement for theindividual the purpose of adult education? Eduard Lindeman, author of the classic The Meaning of Adult Education (1926), said yes to this question—but with an important qualification. The learning adult would find mere self-improvement to be a delusion unless it was pursued with understanding of, and in harmony with, the surrounding social context. Modern human beings functioned within groups. Individuals engaged in joint enterprises with others'. Because they believed that in so doing their own interests would be advanced. Enlightened self-interest, then, called for attention to the related improvement of societal groups. Adult education should take into account and beckon "more intelligent responses" from individuals in their roles as members of organized groups.
If individuals needed to be conscious of the importance of groups, groups needed to acquire a comparable consciousness of individuals. One of Eduard Lindeman's most basic beliefs was that adult education was the most reliable instrument for social activists. Only by educating the adherents of a movement could such persons utilize the compelling power of a group and still remain within the scope of democratic behavior.
Every social action group, he thought, should at the same time be an adult education group. Conversely he went "even so far as to believe that all successful adult education groups sooner or later become social action groups." Consequently, adult education would become "an agency of progress" if its short-term goal of self-improvement for the individual could be made compatible with "a long-term, experimental but resolute policy of changing the social order."
In 1928, Lindeman used the formidable forum provided by TheNew Republic to state his case for adult education as a new means of social change for liberals. As his point of departure, Lindeman took his cues from John Dewey, citing"intelligence" and "ideas" as the"supreme force in the settlement of social issues." The question for liberals was this: What kinds of intelligence and what sorts of ideas were needed to overcome inertia in promoting social change?
The schools, provided they were infused with the new spirit of progressivism, could help with regeneration but their role would be limited. Education might be finely conceived and executed for children, but it was adults who would always manage affairs of importance. And at last, for the first time in America, "grown-up people" were beginning to "inquire seriously about the state of their intelligence." This was indeed good news.
The crux of Lindeman's argument was that liberalism aimed toward social change would be effective only when it was derived from "a valid learning process which is continuous, co-terminous, with life itself." Such continuous education was "the new means for attaining liberal ends." So conceived, education was not "a door which opens and closes at stated periods." Rather, it was the "very air essential for intelligent living." As such it should quicken the spirits of those who were standing "disillusioned and bewildered in a world where the supreme force which settles many social issues is still so largely infused with fear rather than intelligence." David W. Stewart
David W. Stewart is a consultant in adult and higher education inWashington, D.C. The fore going article is drawn from his book, tentatively entitled Adult Learning in America! Eduard Lindeman and His Agenda for Lifelong Education, which will be published by Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co., Inc., in 1986.
JOHN HOLT OBITUARY
We were deeply saddened to hear about the death of John Holt, author, educator, lecturer, and amateur musician, whose criticism of our nation's schools and pioneering work as an advocate of parents teaching their children at home and in the community challenged and inspired millions. Holt died of cancer in his Boston home on Saturday, September 14.
John Holt was born in New York City on April 14, 1925. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in industrial engineering in 1943, although he later refused to say where he had gone to school - -"Most of what I know I did not learn in school and indeed was not even taught."
After teaching fifth grade for several years, Holt wrote HowChildren Fail (Pittman, 1964), an indictment of our nation's schools, which launched his career as a lecturer and consultant to schools across the nation. A sequel to this book, How Children Learn, was published three years later. These two books have been translated into14 languages and have sold more than 1-1/2 million copies.
In two subsequent books, The Underachieving School and What Do I_Do on Monday? , he furthered his arguments for changes within the classroom. In his provocative Freedom and Beyond, published in1972 (E. P. Dutton & Co.), Holt urged the movement to a deschooled society as quickly as possible, discussing existing alternatives such as free or open schools and offering new choices such as community learning centers and flexible school days and years.
In the late 1970's, Holt's lifelong crusade to help children learn and grow led him to become an advocate of parents teaching their children in the home and in the community. In 1977, he started "Growing Without Schooling," a bimonthly magazine on home and community learning. In 1981, he wrote Teach Your Own, subtitled "A Hopeful Path for Education," which provides a practical manual for taking and keeping your children out of school as well as a great deal of information about learning at home and in the community.
Holt's advocacy for freedom in education also extended to adults. For the last five years, Holt had served on the Advisory Board of Basic Choices, Inc. In his wonderful and inspiring book for adult learners. Never Too Late.(Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence,1978), Holt tells of his experience in learning to play the flute at 54 and the cello at 40, which he took up again at 50. Holt wrote the book to combat the myth that "any disciplined and demanding activity can never grow out of love, joy,and free choice, but must be rooted in forced exposure, coercion and threat."
That learning takes place best when it comes out of joy, love, and the freedom to choose is a theme that pervades the writings and work of John Holt. We at Basic Choices hope and assume that his important ideas and work will continue and flourish under the auspices of "Growing Without Schooling," 729 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116.(CW)
EDITORIAL POLICY OF BASIC CHOICES
Basic Choices represents an attempt to bring together people who are concerned with social change and the education of adults. Our major purpose is to encourage the exchange of ideas and perceptions so that adults may come to think more seriously about their place in the world community. Our intention is not to be a united orgnnization in the sense that a unity of action is assumed or a particular opinion is a prerequisite for participation. We oppose any arbitrary and centralized discipline that deters individuals (with divided opinions and diverse interests) from engaging in the ongoing dialogue so necessary for learning and conscious-raising. We mean to encourage discourse in an atmosphere that will promote a general will to share, discuss, and enter into an exchange for mutual growth, support, and enjoyment based on shared experience and activity.
In this spirit, we invite and encourage newsletter contributions from those concerned with education and social change. The format may be as diverse as our members' opinions. Contributions may include but are not limited to poetry, creative prose, cartoons and comics, reviews, personal experiences, and news clippings. Items will not be censored based on content, but rather selection for inclusion will be based on appropriateness to our mission. Our aim is to include the contributions of many – bear in mind that publication space is limited. We appreciate typed, double-spaced copy. Artwork must be reproducible. (CF, MH, HZ)
AN ALTERNATIVE NAEC ANYONE?
Do you feel the cause of adult education would be better served by a national conference that did some things not now being done. What kind of things? I’m not sure that I know. I have a feeling that all of the energy (and expense!) that goes into this annual event could some larger ripples. Here are three questions which I would like to discuss with others. First, are those whose ideas and style are not mainstream being kept away from the cost or other factors? Second, would a shift to an emphasis on learning rather than teaching stimulate some new directions for practitioners in the field and for people who want to understand and enhance their own learning process? Third, would a shift to a problem-setting emphasis rather than that of problem-solving help identify a whole set of significant but theretofore unspecified problems?(This approach might frighten those who feel that any divergent process would lead to an imbalance in the status quo.)
Is there anyone out there who shares this feeling of mine? If so, let's get toether in Milwaukee to kick the thought around for an hour or so. I will post a notice of when and where we plan to meet. Roy J. Inham, 113 Stone Bldg., Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306 – Phone: 904-644-4706.
Here is some information on my new book. Full title is Culture Wars: School and Society in the Conservative Restoration, 1969-1984. It will be in print in December from Routledge and Kegan Paul, 9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108. It will be in paperback then, price should be $9.95, but don’t know for sure yet.
In Culture Wars, I look at how the recent conservative period was constructed in education as a campaign to reverse the protest cultures of the 60’s. A key establishment task from Nixon through Reagan was to roll back the egalitarian, experimental, anti-authoritarian and anti-war movements which threatened the status quo. This was a society-wide project with specific campaigns on the education front. I trace three major school campaigns in the war on the 60’s: careerism, the literacy crisis, and the new ‘excellence’ movement. Each was school policy that disempowered students and teachers, with political thrusts against the demands from below for equality, peace and power. In the opening chapter I survey the general crisis of the period and in the final chapter I consider what kinds of themes or agendas make sense for the opposition after 1985, following 15 years of conservative offensives. Also, I consider the recent conservative period a disabled age of restoration, full of contradictions and partial successes and even reversals, as well as some notable victories,which advanced side by side with a left that was retreating and maturing at the same time. Ira Shor
Watching my own learning over time, and trying to be helpful to others who want to learn better, I've come to the conviction that five principles underlie the most effective and enjoyable learning.
1. Learning is natural. It's concomitent with living fully."Live and learn" is valid because it is redundant. "A trout, having snatched at a hook but having had the good luck to escape with a rip in his jaw, may...form a new judgment, which we should verbalize as a nicer discrimination between food and bait," in the bright wordsof Kenneth Burke. Us, too.
2. Learning is personal. Read John Holt’s Never Too Late or Herb Kohl’s Half the House for living examples. If our faces were as different as our brains, some of us would have noses as long as elephants' trunks.
3. Learning is enjoyable. Watch a baby starting to walk, talk, or kidaround. It's the hardest learning any of us ever does, and the kid laughs! Superlearning techniques,while exaggerated in some reports including the book by that title, do work, and they do make learning painless.
4. Learning is holistic. Practical application: learning English as a Second Language via bodily movements, expressive drama, situations from everyday life, convivial atmosphere in the classroom, songs, relevance to the students' life-situations, etc.
5. Learning is learnable. The mind, like the body responds well to right use; meaning bracing exercise, sound nutrition, keeping in shape. And there are tricks. Because learning them is holistic, enjoyable, personal, and natural, many people who've done it don't even realize what they have done. But the more self-conscious ones, like Buckminster Fuller, Norman Cousins, and Jacob Bronowski, know full well how they got smart, and have left us precious blueprints for mental development.
In a paper prepared for the first Annual Conference of the International League of Social Commitment in Adult Education, (Sweden, July, 1985), Ulrich Nitsch, a faculty member at the Swedish Univ. of Ag. Sciences, (S-75007 Uppsala, Sweden), promotes the use of civil disobedience as a means of humanizing the practice of agricultural extension. He views extension practice as a cultural confrontation between two groups, extension and farmers, which have different values and understandings of what farming is.
In order to reform agricultural extension services, Nitsch urges those involved in extension to"find ways of making the confrontation between farmers and extension works a human act, an enriching meeting between equals not a cultural invasion....where together they learn to create their future." Civil disobedience is suggested as one means of redirecting the objectives of agricultural extension from increased agricultural productivity to the meeting of basic human needs. (SP)
The technique of "imaging" is explored in an article by Elise Boulding in the February, 1983 issue of Forum and Contest entitled "The Social Imagination and the Crisis of Human Futures: A North American Perspective." The technique has been used to assist people concerned with social change in exploring alternative means of dealing with social/political problems. Imaging is based on the belief that people need to be able to tap into their own creativity in order to find innovative solutions. As social beings, people become accustomed to certain ways of thinking and seeing, and only by seeing and thinking in a new way are they able to develop creative strategies. The article discusses the rationale, technique and application of "imaging." (LB)
On October 15, Jeremy Rifkin’s newest book, an essay entitled Declaration of a Heretic, was published by Routledge & Kegan Paul. Rifkin has become well known for his books, such as Entropy and Algeny, as well as his public stands on genetic engineering. It is probably for these public stands that he is best know by both friend and foe.
In the past few years Rifkin has assembled a coalition of diverse groups of people to oppose genetic engineering. In addition, he has brought several suits against government agencies to halt unregulated experiments. While these actions have brought him success, they have also brought him powerful enemies within the scientific establishment. He has been accused of being anti-scientific, a reactionary, and an opportunist.
Rifkin seeks in Declaration of a Heretic to answer these accusations and to question the underlying assumptions of the "Age of Progress." He attacks the notion that science and technology can ever be neutral. He declares that science, as practiced today, is predominately technology. He states that "we have transformed all of physical reality into a giant testing site."
Much of the essay explores the societal equation, which he believes we live by; knowledge=power-control=security.The progression of the equation is traced historically, culminating today, in mass paranoia.
However, there is no fatalism in Rifkin's argument. There is still a chance to change course. Through a redefinition of the terms of the equation, change is possible. Rifkin's work will no doubt stir up more controversy. His questions need to be asked, and furthermore, need to be answered by an informed public, not by a minority with vested interests. (LB)
BILINGUAL EDUCATION: WHERE DO YOU STAND ADULT EDUCATORS?
The 1974 Lau vs. Nichols act made bilingual instruction lawful in the public schools, but an "English only" crusade, headed by Samuel I. Hayakawa, is going to torpedo any effort to make bilingual instruction a useful method of learning. Arguments against bilingual instruction state: (1)it promotes the subculture and doesn't equip learners with adequate English language skills needed for the job market after schooling, (2) it consumes time and money, the most costly being workable equivalent testing instruments which will account for language differences and (3)if allowed, the minority groups will gain power. Hayakawa cited the black civil rights movement as an example of empowerment. "The Negroes wanted to stop being called Negroes and wanted to be called blacks." To him, if subcultures are allowed penetrate into the dominant culture through bilingualism, they will gain power. That means, bilingualism will neutralize the superordinate/subordinate language relationship the dominent culture has been perpetuating through English against subculture groups.
Bilingual instruction is not an attempt to take away power from anyone; instead, it is a way to help the imigrants understand what they are being taught. Understanding is the most important aspect of learning. When it is lacking, because of language barriers, communicators are like the deaf people watching drummers but being unable to hear the drumbeat. When understanding is present, as in the case of full literate bilinguals, the bilinguals have a better chance of fitting into the mainstream. The question for adult educators to answer is,"What is the value of the concept of equal opportunity if there are no programs which provide assistance through one's own language among the immigrants?" It is time, I believe, that we address this issue. (CA)
RADICAL FORUM ON ADULT EDUCATION
A series entitled, "Radical Forum on Adult Education," edited by Jo Complin is now available from Groom-Helm. One of the latest in the series in University Adult Education in England and the USA byRichard Taylor, Kathleen Rockhill, and Roger Fieldhouse. This book examines the liberal tradition in a comparative study of the two countries. Other titles we have seen are Learning Liberations Women's Response to Men's Education by Jane Thompson and Adult Education and Community Action by Tom Lovett, Chris Clarke, and Avila Kilmurray. If you sometimes feel that anything you pick up on adult education that is contemporary seems to be written by some great bland pen in the sky which studiously avoids discourse then you will be pleased to pick up any one of these books. Let's hope the1990 handbook that's being planned now by AAACE will let some alternative views be printed this time around. (PC)
U.S. IS BROKE
In the Octover issue of Harper’s, Lewis H. Laphams presents a politically cynical critique of the financial status of the U.S. His premise is twofold: the U.S., by any sort of usual financial criteria is bankrupt, and, most everyone has a vested interest in pretending that it is not so.
Although numerous writers decry our national financial situation, Lapham’s essay stands out among the rest for a couple of reasons. One reason is his biting humor in presenting his "program notes" which substantiate his claims. The other difference is that he articulates the questions that nobody dares ask, going beyond the more superficial national debt questions, to the more basic questions of national values and those of connectedness with the rest of the world.
In order to do the piece justice, it must be read. "Music for Crows" can be found in the October, 1985 issue of Harper's. (LB)
NATIONAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION
The National College of Education, at Creve Coeur, Missouri, has announced its plans to publish three issues of Historical Foundations of Adult Education: A Bulletin of Research and Information1985/86. The issues will appear in late Fall, in the Spring and in early summer. Deadlines for contributing papers, reviews and information of interest for the last two issues will be February 28, 1986 and May 31, 1986.
The folks at N.C.E. would like to see the Bulletin serve as a forum for trying new ideas, where the readership feels free in both requesting help with sources and expressing opinion on matters related to adult education and historical inquiry. Material and financial support should be sent to Sean Courtney, 1000 Executive Parkway, Suite 110, Creva Coeur, MO 65141, (514) 878-0520. (SP)
The Field Guide to Alternative Media, subtitled as a Directory Reference and Selection Tools Useful in Accessing Small and Alternative Press Publications and Independently Produced Media, catalogs a wide variety of aternative media materials. Many of these materials are difficult to assess through usual channels. The guide was developed by the Task Force on Alternatives in Print of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. It is available through the Office of Library Outreach Services, American Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611, for $6. (LB)
The Turning Point Newsletter is designed to facilitate networking among people with diverse concerns, but who share the feeling that humankind is at a "turning point." Old values, lifestyles and systems are breaking down and new ones must be helped in breaking through. The 10 year old newsletter is currently accepting items for its February 1986 issue which must be received by mid-January. Inquiries and communications can be directed to Alison Pritchard or James Robertson, The Old Bakehouse, Cholsey, Nr. Wallingford, Oxon, 0X10 9NU, England. (LB)
THE LETTER EXCHANGE
“523. Frustrated literary correspondent looking for a way to hook up with like-minded souls. Respondents must have a passion for letter writing. Drop me a line.”
If you don’t seem to be getting as many letters as you would like, and if the above “personal” fits your situation, you may consider The Letter Exchange.
The Letter Exchange provides a way for readers to find other people for the exchange of correspondence about matters of mutual interest, a way to sort out one’s thoughts and feelings by telling them to someone else in a letter. The subscriber enters their “personal” under headings, such as “history and politics,” “literature,” “contemporary issues” and so on.
Contacts are made throught the publications’s office, assuring anonymity for the advertiser. The Letter Exchange is published three times a year, in February, June, and October. Subscription rates are $6.00 for one year. Sample copies are available for $2.50 each. Postage and handling are included. One free listing is included with each paid subscription. If The Letter Exchange interests you, drop them a line at P.O. Box 6218, Albany, CA 94706.
New Options, a newsletter edited by Mark Satin, author of New Age Politics, has been exploring alternative political options now for 20 issues. The format includes long and short articles, brief informational pieces, as well as letters and networking information. In addition, New Options offers for sale a mailing list of 1800 change-oriented periodicals. Information can be obtained by contacting New Options, Inc., P.O. Box 19324, Washington, D.C. 20036, or by calling (202) 822-0929. (LB)
We would like to use this opportunity to give a plug to a publication dedicated to the advancement of “new age” ideas. In Context, now in its third year of operation, is doing its part in promoting alternative directions for a world undergoing major cultural shifts.
In Context is published quarterly, with each issue focusing on themes which explore and clarify “just what is involved in a humane sustainable culture –and how we can get there.” The following is a sampling of theses from past issues: “Governance – New options for decision making, “Strategies for cultural change,” and “The way of learning – New patterns of education in the communication era.”
In Context is a cooperative project. Most of the materials in the publication are provided by outside contributors. For more information, contact In Context, P.O. Box 2107, Sequim, WA 98382. (SP)
THE BASIC CHOICES SYMBOL
There are three ways of looking at the Basic Choices symbol printed in the upper left hand corner of this newsletter.
First, see it as an adaptation of the old “=”, the banner of the civil rights movement, standing for our commitment to equality for all.
Second, the “hump” in the lower line suggests the “scales of justice” symbol, pointing toward our belief in moving toward a society that is fair to all.
Third, the symbol resembles the ancient astrological “Libra” sign. We reach for the stars --- spiritual health for everyone.
Put all three together and you see the hope for combining the best of the “social justice” and “new age” movements toward freedom for all. (JO)
Factsheet Five is an eclectic accumulation of obscure and not so obscure publications. The editor , Michaeal Gunderloy, reviews a large quantity of publications, using humor and general opinions. It appears on a quarterly basis. Sample copies are available for $1. Subscriptions may be paid for in postage stamps or by trading your own publication, as well as more usual options. Factsheet Five inqiries should be addressed to Michael Gunderly. (LB)
BASIC CHOICES WORKING COMMITTEE
Clifford I-Aharanwa, Linda Babler, Xuo-ming Bao, Greg Brecht, Irene Campos-Carr, Scipio A. J. Colin, Phyllis Cunningham, Tom Emmett, Trenton Ferro, Connie Frazier, Mickey Hellyer, Dorothy Jossendal, Tuli Kupferberg, Leigh Lakey, Hueiching Lin, Dana Maxfield, Jeannie Oddgeirsson, John Ohliger, Scott Pickett, Beth Schulman, Sripen Supapidhayakul, Judy Taylor, Chris Wagner, Jun-ping Wang, Hal Zenisek.
Basic Choices, Inc.
933 Clarence Ct.
Madison WI 53715