This article explores pragmatism's associationwith relativism, not to rescue it fromrelativism but rather to highlight how aspectsof the classic pragmatists' positions supportqualified relativism. I do so in an effort tohelp restore ``relativism'' as a meaningfulconcept that is nuanced and complex, ratherthan naive and vulgar, as it is regularlyportrayed by more traditional philosophers. This nuanced relativism I call qualifiedrelativism. Qualified relativists insist thatall inquiry are affected by philosophicalassumptions which are culturally bound, andthat all inquirers are situated knowers who areculturally bound as (...) well. However, we cancompensate for our cultural embeddedness byopening our horizons and including others inour conversations. I connect the classicpragmatist points to current feministepistemological work and show that qualifiedrelativists (pragmatists, feminists, andpostmodernists) can claim roots to theirpositions in Peirce, James, and Dewey, some ofthe very scholars others turn to for theirpragmatic realism and their nonvulgar absolutism. (shrink)
The author describes a published symposium which debated Is Critical Thinking Biased? The symposium meant to address concerns about critical thinking that are being expressed by feminist and postmodern scholars. However, through the author's critique, and the symposium respondent's, we learn the participants ended up begging the question of bias. The author maintains that the belief that critical thinking is unbiased is based on an assumption that knowers can be separated from what is known. She argues that critical thinking is (...) a tool which has no life of its own, it only has meaning and purpose when fallible, biased people use it (weak sense bias). She challenges the idea of a transcendental epistemological perspective, thus all knowledge is provisional and perspectival (strong sense bias). The author begins to redescribe a transformed critical thinking as constructive thinking. (shrink)
This article explores the centralpragmatist and feminist philosophical assumption thatknowers can not be separated from what is known, thatthere is a dialectical relationship between socialbeings and ideas that is dynamic, flexible, andreciprocal. The author seeks a closer examination ofconstructive thinking in relation to the practice ofthinking constructively within social communities. She discusses social communities that constructknowledge as radical democratic communitiesalways-in-the-making, and the skills of communicatingand relating which help knowers be able to activelyparticipate in the construction of knowledge. Giventhe fallibility of (...) the pluralistic subjects, she showsthe importance of addressing cultural influences andpolitical power in theories about thinking. Sheargues for the value of embracing pluralistic anddemocratic commitments on epistemological grounds aswell as moral grounds. (shrink)
Just as Dewey argued during the industrial revolution, from the 1890s–1930s, and Martin argued in the 1960s–1990s with our “second wave” working revolution : today’s times are out of joint, potentially dangerous conflicts exist, and teachers have some responsibility in making things right. We are in another social revolution, as work is changing significantly again, due to advances in technology. Let’s call these current changes in work the technology revolution. Again, we need to rethink our school structures, curriculum, and pedagogy. (...) In an effort to contribute to that process, I direct our attention to the need to redefine work, and re/examine the connections between work and education in this paper. (shrink)
Thayer-Bacon tells her story in a conversational tone that traces her personal and professional roots as she describes various chapters of her life: first as a philosopher, how she became involved in education, and then how that involvement became a career as a philosopher of education, in a large teacher education program, and now at a research institution. She sketches her philosophical contributions, as a pragmatist, feminist, postmodernist, and cultural studies scholar, to philosophy, philosophy of education, and education.
This essay offers a critical analysis of Locke's and Rousseau's basic assumptions upon which classical liberalism is built: rationalism, universalism, and individualism. I then describe an alternative starting place for democracy with a transactional view of individuals-in-relation-to-others. I then offer specific educational examples to help me sketch two themes that illustrate problems with classical liberalism and how a transactional democracy-always-in-the-making can help to solve these problems.
Thayer-Bacon uses this opportunity to further explore Rancière's ideas concerning equality as described in The Ignorant Schoolmaster and their connection to democracy, as he explains in Hatred of Democracy. For Rancière, intelligence and equality are synonymous terms, just as reason and will are synonymous terms. Rancière recommends the only way to really teach a student is by viewing the student as an equal. Thayer-Bacon learned to view students as equals through her experience as a Montessori teacher, and so she brings (...) Montessori into conversation with Rancière to further explore the idea of equality between teachers and students, as well as between citizens in a democracy. There are problems with both Rancière's perspective and Montessori's that feminist theory, in the form of a relational ontology and epistemology, can help us solve by finding our way out of the paradoxes of democracy and on to trusting our students, our future democratic citizens. (shrink)
My task in Beyond Liberal Democracy in Schools was to develop a relational, pluralistic social political theory that moves beyond liberal democracy. I find Dewey is a key source to help us find our way out of liberal democracy’s assumptions and show us how to move on. He offers us the possibilities of moving beyond individualism, with his theory of social transaction and he shows us how to move beyond rationalism in his arguments for truths as warranted assertions. A transactional (...) description of selves-in-relation-with-others describes us as becoming individuals out of our social settings. At the same time that we are becoming individuals within a social setting, we are continually affecting that social setting. Individuals are not aggregates with separate boundaries that have no relation to one another. In fact, the ‘self’ is fictive, and contingent. Our ‘selves’ are multifarious and fractured, due to repressive forces imposed upon us by others as well as supportive forces offered to us by others. Others bind us and help us become free at the same time. The democratic theory I develop is a radical democratic theory that represents feminist and multicultural concerns. This theory is radical because of my efforts to present an anti-racist theory that critiques basic foundational-level assumptions embedded within both individualism and collectivism. The theory moves beyond modernism and critical theory as it seeks to address postmodern concerns of power and exclusionary practice without appealing to grand narratives such as Reason, the Scientific Method, or Dialogue. I follow Dewey’s social transactional lead and describe our world as one that is pluralistic, relational, and in process as we continually contribute to the on-going constructing of knowing. I argue, in agreement with Dewey , that a democracy is a mode of associated living, not just a view of political democracy, and that it needs to be struggled for on all fronts, with all our social institutions, including: political, economic, educational, scientific, artistic, religious, and familial. This comprehensive view of democracy is consistent with the transactional relational assumption I describe, for it recognizes that social institutions are no more autonomous and separate from each other than individuals are separate from each other. For this essay, I explore education’s role in helping us understand how connected we all are to each other, moving us closer to living in a world we may someday call a democracy. (shrink)
In A Pluralistic Universe, James argues that the world we experience is more than we can describe. Our theories are incomplete, open, and imperfect. Concepts function to try to shape, organize, and describe this open, flowing universe, while the universe continually escapes beyond our artificial boundaries. For James and myself, the universe is unfinished, a “primal stuff” or “pure experience.” However, James starts with parts and moves to wholes, and I want to start from wholes and move to parts and (...) back to wholes again. This is an issue between us I further consider, for while he describes himself as a radical empiricist, emphasizing the parts, my descriptions are in terms of w/holism. I use this opportunity to explore James’s contributions to my metaphor of “pure experience” as being like an infinite Ocean and the fishing nets we create represent our ontologies and epistemologies that help us catch up our experiences and give them meaning. I also make the case for why a better understanding of ontology matters for us as educators, using Maria Montessori’s curriculum and instruction design, Dinè Primary School, and Cajete’s theology of place and culturally based science as examples of relational fishing nets we could be using to teach our children. (shrink)
: My project aims to develop a relational, pluralistic political theory that moves us beyond liberal democracy, and to consider how such a theory translates into our public school settings. In this essay I argue that Dewey offers us possibilities for moving beyond one key assumption of classical liberalism, individualism, with his theory of social transaction. I focus my discussion for this paper on Dewey's renascent liberal democracy. I move from a discussion of Dewey's liberal democratic theory to what a (...) relational, pluralistic democratic theory might look like, with Dewey's help. (shrink)
This issue marks the beginning of a new editor-in-chief for Studies in Philosophy and Education . I am excited to begin my tenure in this role, and to continue developing the long-standing strength and quality of this journal, which enjoys a 54-year history of continual support from editors in the fields of philosophy, philosophy of education, social science, and educational policy, in support of addressing philosophical, theoretical, normative and conceptual problems and issues in educational research, policy and practice.Let me introduce (...) myself a little. I am a “military brat” who grew up on USA military bases around the world during the Cold War, the 1960s civil rights movement, the 2nd wave of the feminist movement, and the Viet Nam War, all of which greatly affected me. I am a former Montessori elementary teacher, mother of four very talented adult children and grandmother of two adorable granddaughters.I am a full professor, who worked in undergraduate teacher education for .. (shrink)
My article aims to develop a relational, pluralistic political theory that moves beyond standard theories of liberal democracy, and to consider how such a theory translates into our public school settings. I use a narrative style argument to share stories that focus on homogeneity and diversity from my visit to a Japanese elementary school, as I consider, drawing on the work of Chantal Mouffe, the important role harmony and disagreement, and a tension between homogeneity and diversity, play in encouraging citizens (...) to contribute to their school and their larger communities in a democracy-always-in-the-making. I argue that there is much we can learn from Japanese educational practices. (shrink)
Democracies Always in the Making develops Barbara Thayer-Bacon’s relational and pluralistic democratic theory, as well as translates that socio-political philosophical theory into educational theory and recommendations for school reform in American public schools. Democracy is a goal, an ideal which we must continually strive for that can guide us in our decision-making, as we continue to live in a world that is unpredictable, flawed, and limited in terms of its resources.