Stories – Peter Moss (Webinar)


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.

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Learning outcomes

At the completion of this presentation, you will have an understanding of:

  • Current Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education

About the presenters

Peter Moss is Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood Provision at UCL Institute of Education, University College London. He has researched and written on many subjects including early childhood education and care, and the relationship between early childhood and compulsory education; the relationship between employment, care and gender; and democracy in education. Much of his work has been cross-national, and he has led a European Commission network on childcare and an international network on parental leave. From 2005 to 2016 he co-edited (with Gunilla Dahlberg) the book series ‘Contesting Early Childhood’, whose aim is to question “the current dominant discourses surrounding early childhood, and offer instead alternative narratives of an area that is now made up of a multitude of perspectives”.

His books include Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care (with Gunilla Dahlberg and Alan Pence); Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education (with Gunilla Dahlberg); Radical Education and the Common School(with Michael Fielding); and Transformative Change and Real Utopias in Early Childhood Education. Most recently he has worked with Reggio Emilia to produce an English-language book of the work of Loris Malaguzzi, which was published in 2016 – Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio EmiliaA selection of his writings and speeches, 1945-1993.

This webinar was part of the South Australian Collaborative Childhood project.

Providing state-wide leadership to strengthen and develop strategic and collaborative partnerships between organisations in order to advocate for children’s rights as citizens from birth.

Additional information

Target audience

Suitable for early childhood education and care workers at all stages of their careers

Estimated duration

70 minutes