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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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I have benefited from help in many forms during the process of writing this book. My first thank yous must go to my family, for their support that is always there with me, and they suffer through endless conversations about the topics and issues I ponder, especially my loving partner and best friend, Charles Bacon. My two adorable granddaughters, Elizabeth Jane (Lizzie) and Louisa Scott (Lulu), have been my inspiration during the writing of this book.

This project began with a sabbatical in Europe, sponsored by Prof. Gert Biesta, while he was working at the University of Luxembourg, in 2014. Thank yous must go to Biesta for giving me an invitation that allowed me to be on location as a visiting scholar for six weeks in Luxembourg, and then for three months in Edinburgh, Scotland. Much of my background reading occurred during the time while I was in Europe. I also shared my metaphor of a fishing net with a seminar and faculty at the University of Luxembourg and I thank them for their feedback and suggestions.

I must thank my own institution, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), and in particular my program colleagues in Learning Environments and Educational Studies: Kathy Greenberg, for taking over as program coordinator, and Scott Ellison, for taking care of the Cultural Studies in Education masters degree program while I was gone. Thank you to my department head ← xv | xvi → at that time, Steve McCallum, for his support...

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