Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Antonia Darder

Second Advisor

Ani Shabazian

Third Advisor

Carolina Valdez


In an age of adultism in which children have been perceived as mere drains on society, schooling often has been viewed as a means to an end. Due to the fact that a capitalistic society requires future workers, children have been socialized in the necessary skills and knowledge required to fulfill their future job requirements. Consequently, schooling often has taken place in the form of the banking model in which students are treated as empty vessels to be filled up by the knowledgeable teachers, and then to regurgitate said knowledge on assessments to prove their understanding. I challenge this antiquated vision of education, especially in relation to what it has meant for young children in preschool through first grade. Using critical pedagogy and the Reggio Emilia approach as theoretical frameworks, I conducted a critical narrative study of eight early educators who have had experience working with students in early grades in emancipatory ways. I found that educators’ own experiences and consciousness greatly affected their beliefs about young children as well as the liberatory practices they engaged. I present a proposal for a shift in thinking about the education of young children, a relational model of education that highlights the intersections of critical pedagogy and the Reggio Emilia approach in grounding the work of teaching in armed love, belief in the capabilities of children, and opportunities for students to work with educators as revolutionary partners and transformative change agents who have an active role in their education and their world.