Every year, on international Children’s Day, I remind myself that I was once a child too and felt helpless and confused. It is hard to remember my thoughts and feelings from the early stages of my childhood, because they have faded over time. Still, after working with children and in service of children for 30 years, I would like to give the stage to one of my heroes, Janusz Korczak, who inspired me indirectly, through his philosophy and writing, to be the educator I am today.
I first heard about Janusz Korczak when I was a teenager and studied the Holocaust. Janusz Korczak was the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit. He was a Polish-Jewish educator, children’s author and pediatrician, who worked with orphans in Warsaw before and during World War II. Although he was offered sanctuary several times, he marched with 192 orphans to his death on August 7, 1942, at the Treblinka extermination camp.
Janusz Korczak holding a childWhen I was studying Education, I learned some more about Korczak and his philosophy about children and the attitude to children touched my heart. At that point, he became my hero. The more I learned about him, the more I understood how far our society and in our education system are from this attitude.
At that stage, I decided bring his philosophy into the life of my students. Later on, when my daughter was born, I also had a chance to integrate Korczak’s respect and love for children into my parenting.