A broad consensus exists among people familiar with Janusz Korczak’s life, work and writings regarding the fact that he was a very gifted, original and exceptional pedagogue – one of the twentieth century’s most outstanding humanist educators. This consensus notwithstanding, Korczak is not usually considered a world-class educational theorist or philosopher. A concentrated attempt to consolidate and formulate his educational positions and practices into a philosophical-educational theory, based on an analysis and interpretation of his literary and pedagogical works, is absent in Hebrew works on Korczak’s educational thought and humanist legacy. This book aspires to fill this void. Acknowledging and working through the highly narrative style of Korczak’s writings, this book seeks to conceptualise his educational thought. It systematically presents Korczak’s world-view and the educational theory derived from it; it depicts his rich and innovative array of educational practices and endows them with philosophical analysis and interpretation.
Respect for the child as a person, as a full-fledged, ever-growing human being, constitutes the very heart and core of his educational thought. In Korczak’s eyes, the open, direct and sincere demonstration of such respect to children by educators is a precondition for the very possibility to educate children and engender positive changes in their personalities.
The narrative of the book includes the analysis and interpretation of many passages from Korczak’s numerous, rich and diverse writings. Selections from his works for the readers’ exploration are offered at the end of each chapter, accompanied by suggestions of issues for possible discussion.
The book addresses a wide audience including master educators, master teachers, educators, teachers, students and all intelligent, reflective and critical people interested in furthering their knowledge and understanding of decisive cultural-educational issues of our time. The encounter with Korczak’s educational thought and practices is likely to contribute to our current educational thinking and practice and assist us in our quest for compelling responses to central educational questions that concern and challenge us today.
Dr. Marc Silverman is a senior lecturer in the Hebrew University’s School of Education and Melton Centre for Jewish Education. He teaches, researches, writes and publishes articles in two main interrelated educational fields: moral, progressive, radical and Jewish educational thought; and the intellectual history, sociology and ideologies of current Jewish cultural and educational movements and trends.