For The Children Essay

2002 words - 9 pages

These early experiences as a doctor influenced Korczak’s decision to not just become a pediatrician but also an advocate for children’s rights (Ignaszewski 109). Following the war, Korczak began to travel around Europe to further his medical education. During this time, Korczak gave several lectures on the condition of public health. Unlike many of his colleagues, he chose to highlight the role sanitary living conditions and good hygiene play in the normal psychological and physical development of children. Korczak’s views on infant and youth healthcare were widely accepted and published in several distinguished medical journals (Ignaszwski 109). So, at the relatively youthful age of 33, ...view middle of the document...

This was a decisive moment for Korczak. The next day “for the first time I spoke not to the children but with the children. I spoke not of what I would like them to be, but of what they would like to be and could be. Perhaps then, for the first time, I found out that one could learn a great deal from children; that they make, and have every right to make, demands, conditions, reservations”. Korczak didn’t stop there. He continued implementing new practices the following year at the same summer camp, such as learning every child’s name by heart, holding meetings with the children and instead of telling them what they did wrong discussing with them why their actions were wrong (Berding).
Through all of these experiences Korczak made three major discoveries. First he realized that children had to be involved if you were going to speak of education in any way. If children aren’t able to actively participate in their education it will be over their heads. That’s why Korczak saw the teacher’s relationship to the student as a partnership, not a display of power. This lead to Korczak’s second discovery: becoming an educator required respect and dialogue. The educator must respect the child for who they are and who they want to become. Furthermore, Korczak saw dialogue as the ultimate means of education. He often emphasized, “speaking with children, instead of to them” (Berding). Finally, Korczak discovered the power of self-reflection. On a daily basis he would step back and examine what he was doing right and what he was doing wrong. If a change needed to be made Korczak was humble enough to admit it and readily change it since his only concern was bettering his children.
Korczak continued to live by this philosophy when he became the director of Dom Sierot (The Children’s Home), an orphanage for impoverished Jewish Children (Efron 41). Here, Korczak set out to create a completely new educative environment not just for the children but also with the children. In his own words, “The children became the patronage, the worker and the head of the home” (Berding). This led him to create new “educational arrangements” including a children’s parliament, an experimental school and a children’s newspaper. In fact, The Little Review was the first newspaper whose staff consisted entirely of children. Never before had children been able to communicate with their peers in this way. Not only that, Korczak set up a bulletin board, mailbox, lost and found cabinet and an educators and children’s logbook to further communication within the orphanage (Berding).
In addition to The Little Review, Korczak created another groundbreaking institution called the children’s court. Like most courts systems, the children’s court was established to uphold justice. This concept of justice was founded upon Korczak’s Constitution of the Rights of the Child, a book of laws intended to regulate the orphanage. These laws were unique because they emphasized forgiveness over punishment. ...

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