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Philosophical Ethics in Early Childhood (PEECh)

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While many ethics education programs focus primarily on adult or adolescent populations, the Rock Ethics Institute expands ethics education research and practice to include early childhood populations. The Philosophical Ethics in Early Childhood (PEECh) project includes a curriculum of discussion- and activity-based ethics education programming for young children (3-5 years), as well as mixed methods research on moral development with participating children. The PEECh project helps educators and researchers to (1) better understand young children’s ability to recognize and distinguish ethical concepts, ideas, and questions, and (2) to explore the effectiveness of children’s literature, child-centered discussions, games, and additional classroom activities for fostering ethical discussions with and ethical development in young children.

The PEECh team members (Dr. Michael D. Burroughs,  Dr. Ginger Moore, and Tugce Tuncdemir) have conducted ethics education programming and related research at several schools in Pennsylvania and are currently working with colleagues from the University of Verona to introduce and research the PEECh curriculum in pre-schools in Verona, Italy. The PEECh curriculum includes weekly classroom activities (ranging from discussion of ethical dilemmas found in children’s literature, art activities, and ethics role-playing with puppets) focusing on the ethical themes of fairness, empathy, well-being, and inclusion vs. exclusion. The PEECh team plans to expand their program to additional schools and, ultimately, create an accessible and engaging ethics education curriculum for use in early childhood classrooms more broadly.