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Relational Ontologies


Barbara Thayer-Bacon

Relational Ontologies uses the metaphor of a fishing net to represent the epistemological and ontological beliefs that we weave together for our children, to give meaning to their experiences and to help sustain them in their lives. The book describes the epistemological threads we use to help determine what we catch up in our net as the warp threads, and our ontological threads as the weft threads. It asks: what kind of fishing nets are we weaving for our children to help them make sense of their experiences? What weft threads are we including and working to strengthen, and what threads are we removing or leaving out? It is important to carefully re/examine these most basic ways of catching up what sustains us in our ocean of infinite experiences, as the threads we weave for our children will determine what they catch up in their nets, until they are old enough to re/weave their own. Relational Ontologies reweaves America’s epistemological and ontological fishing net on a larger scale, turning to indigenous cultures and diverse spiritual beliefs for assistance in reforming American schools.

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Chapter 2.   Land: First Nations’ Examples


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As we were reminded in the Introduction, when children are born into a family and community, they do not come into this world with a sense of the world already developed. They do not arrive with a road map to help them find their ways. They are initiated into their family and community; they are taught a language, customs, rituals, daily practices, and given meaning by their kin to help them make sense of the world in which they are born. That world is flooded with sensations that children cannot sort out or distinguish without our help. It is as if they are immersed in a sea of infinity, an Ocean of pure experience at birth, and they do not have a sense of distinction from that Ocean yet, they do not “know” what it means to be “separate from.”

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