Keynote Address – Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education revisited

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Twelve years ago, Professor Moss wrote a book with Gunilla Dahlberg, Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education; and argued that ethics and politics should be the starting point or first practice for early childhood education. Professor Moss returns to this theme in his presentation, believing it to be more important than ever, given the troubled times in which we live and the dominant discourse in today’s early childhood education, a discourse that is positivist in its thinking, economistic in its rationality, and whose first practice is technical. He will reassert that early childhood education is, first and foremost, an ethical and political practice: ethical because education is a relational practice requiring relational ethics; and political because education is ‘always a political discourse’ that calls for political questions to be asked and answers to be contested. Questions such as: What is the diagnosis of our times? What is our paradigmatic position? What is our image of the child, the educator and the school? What is education for? What do we mean by learning? What relational ethics and what fundamental values should education work with? What do we want for our children, now and in the future? Such questions are political because they require ‘political choices’ to be made between conflicting alternatives through a democratic politics of education. He will outline personal answers – political choices – to some of these questions, offering one perspective on what transformative change in early childhood education might be; and proposing, too, some of the conditions necessary for enacting such change, acknowledging the importance of technical practice in early childhood education – but always in the service of ethics and politics. His call, therefore, will be for ethics and politics to assume their rightful position, as a necessary condition for a renewed public education, as is the case in Reggio Emilia.

At the completion of this presentation, you will have an understanding of current ethics and politics in early childhood education