Saylor.org Professor Profile: Dr. Chad Redwing

Next up in our professor profile series, meet Dr. Chad Redwing! 

Hi Chad! Please tell our readers about yourself.

My family and I live on a small ranch in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California. Professionally, I have worked at the high school, college and university levels in both teaching and administration. Currently, I am a college professor of Humanities. Academically, I received my Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Chicago in the History of Culture and my B.A. from Arizona State University in Interdisciplinary Humanities. My own academic research deals with the political, social, cultural and historical consequence of 20th century Latin American dictatorships.

I find great satisfaction in a broad range of topics in the Humanities—partaking in philosophical and aesthetic discussions that give perspective, value and meaning to life. Through the interdisciplinary exploration of works of art, music, architecture, cinema, philosophy, religion, poetry, drama, literature (including storytelling and testimony) and even scientific and mathematical theory, I believe that we can come to profound personal answers regarding the existential questions of life—“Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?”

Did anything in particular compel you to participate in the Open Education movement?

In Plato’s Apology, Socrates charges the sophists with using their intellects and rhetorical skills in order to persuade others, win public accolade and amass private wealth—without ever concerning themselves with the legitimate pursuit of wisdom. While gently poking fun at their hair-splitting verbal skills and duplicitous tendency to argue vehemently not out of a search for truth and beauty but in an effort to win the debate, Socrates has particular scorn for the way the sophists charge fees to “educate” others when he says: “Make your first and chief concern not for your bodies nor for your possessions, but for the highest welfare of your souls.”

Frankly, I believe that our educational system displays these same sophist tendencies. No longer do we question how a course, or teacher, or a school help us become wise and live more happily. Rather, schooling is becoming completely utilitarian and chief among the reasons for this is the school system itself. When getting a quality university education means hundreds-of-thousands of dollars of debt, schools require students to reach the inevitably conclusion that one is purchasing an education in exchange for the promise of future economic stability.

Sadly, Socrates’ notion—that “virtue does not come from money, but from virtue comes money and all other good things to man”—is forgotten. The pursuit of wisdom cannot be bought or sold on an exchange; rather the cultivation of virtue by seeking knowledge and wisdom is itself the end of education. This is why I am so deeply attracted to the mission of the Saylor Foundation. By using the revolutionary capabilities of technology to make the pursuit of wisdom accessible to all life-long learners, money no longer becomes an obstacle to education, and by extension, virtue and wisdom are again placed as the true purpose of study. Just as Socrates scoffed at the idea that wisdom could be bartered, the Saylor Foundation suggests that study should be accessible to all so that as citizens of a democracy, we all can be more virtuous, thoughtful and wise participants in our social order.

What are you working on for Saylor.org?

I have designed and edited courses and assessments for the Saylor Foundation: English 204: Cultural and Literary Representations of Modernism; Philosophy 101: Introduction to Philosophy; Philosophy 201: Philosophy of Death; History 222: Modern Latin America. I also offered a special section of Philosophy 201: Philosophy of Death on P2PU, a free, online learning community. Currently, I am designing a Philosophy Major (including courses in metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, and the history of philosophy) for the initiative.

Has your work with Saylor.org taught you anything?

Consulting with the Saylor.org has exposed me to the vast amounts of information that are freely available via the Internet. At the same time, I have learned that this ocean of essays, videos, lectures, notes and articles can be a bit overwhelming for the autodidact. The Saylor Foundation’s Free Education Initiative is important because it utilizes the array of open source materials but also organizes this “sea of data” in intelligent and thought-provoking ways so that as we seek personal and professional betterment we do not feel as if we are drowning in too much information and left without enough perspective .

What are your thoughts on the future of Open Education?

Major colleges, universities and even governments are moving to share knowledge as part of the open access movement. Prestigious post-secondary institutions, non-profit organizations and scholars have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into sharing lectures, research and other didactic materials online for free. Many governments currently have vast public databases available online in a wide-array of areas—including public documents, educational materials and scientific discovery. The British government has announced that it would like to make all publically financed research freely available online and other public entities are surely to follow. All signs point to the fact that sooner rather than later the World Wide Web will herald a radical transformation in how we learn and how we share what we learn with others.

Do you have any advice for other educators who are considering joining the Open Education community?

For me, the chief boon of joining the Open Education community is professional development. Educators will quickly discover how the Saylor Foundation’s Free Education Initiative can help to better their own classroom environment as well as their online lectures and activities. Moreover, educators soon realize that in order to bridge the “generation gap” in the educational setting, teachers must struggle to transform how learning is encouraged for those who have grown up immersed in a technological world.

 

Want to meet more of our professors? Stay tuned to the Saylor Journals for future professor profiles!

4 thoughts on “Saylor.org Professor Profile: Dr. Chad Redwing

  1. June 13, 2012

    Frank Unger Reply

    Truly enjoyed reading this professor profile. Makes me remember the whole point of learning and wisdom. Socrates’ notion regarding virtue is a perfect example of putting the cart before the horse. I’m amazed at the information available to me casually browsing the web, the problem for us autodidacts is precisely as Dr. Redwing notes, how to organize and make sense of it all. I certainly intend to avail myself of Saylor Foundation’s opportunities, soon.

  2. June 14, 2012

    Chad Redwing Reply

    Greetings Mr. Unger and thank you for your comments.

    Aristotle is also on to something when he suggests that the ultimate goal of life, and learning, is happiness. Instead of a purely utilitarian notion of learning, I find it more fulfilling to ask what and how I learn contribute to happiness or fulfillment in my life. This is why Open Education is so fascinating–it is the largest community of self-driven, curious learners on the planet. We are a happy bunch because we embrace learning for learning’s sake!

  3. May 2, 2014

    Anne Brown-Bryan Reply

    I have been considering undertaking a MOOC course in philosophy for a while, and reading your Saylor profile has convinced me to start the philosophy 101 course. I am trying to understand life and the choices that are made by governments and individuals. I hope that by studying philosophy, it will give me some insight into our choices. Also, to me education is a valuable commodity, not only for the individual, but also for the community and should be freely available to all those who want to learn, so I very much applaud your opinion. Thank you

    • May 2, 2014

      Sean Connor Reply

      Outstanding, Anne! I want to share a resource to join you on the journey:

      • Jonathan Haber’s Degree of Freedom website, in which he chronicles his “One-Year MOOC BA” journey. He “majored” in philosophy, which included our own Existentialism course. The spirit of inquiry, reflection, and education is alive and well at DoF.

      Let us know what we can do — we can be found here, of course, and at saylor.org/feedback

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