Paula Rogovin: Creating a social justice early childhood classroom

We speak with Paula Rogovin, who taught kindergarten and first grade in NYC public schools for 44 years. Paula empowered the youngest students to become researchers and activists. She encourages students to ask questions (“anything goes”) and research is interdisciplinary, comprising literature, social studies, art, music, and science. Cultural relevance evolves organically from the research. When students discover injustices, Paula encourages them to channel their anger to become agents of change. Paula’s advice for new teachers, “Teach what you are required to teach, and stretch it.”


00:00-01:06 Intros

01:06-14:18 Kindergarteners’ fight to ban glyphosate

14:18-15:45 Parent forum; the play at City Hall

15:45-19:09 Linking to the standards; students’ excitement about learning through research

19:09-23:38 Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education Framework

23:38-32:04 Encouraging students to think about the ethical implications of actions

32:04-34:01 Promoting peace education

34:01-37:40 Advice to new teachers on surviving the NYC school system

37:40-40:36 How to help social action evolve

40:36-43:32 Outro


Click here to see the full transcription of this episode. 


Paula’s article for Ethical Schools: click here to read “Inquiry Going Virtual! Focus on Interviews”.

Soundtrack by Poddington Bear