Janusz Korczak Association of the USA Publishes Its First Newsletter

Spring Newsletter

The Spring 2014 newsletter is available to members of the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA and is published in PDF format. Mariola Strahlberg founded the organization as a way to bring like-minded people who want to keep Korczak’s legacy as a champion of the child alive. The newsletter contains interviews and an article on new writings on Korczak; it is also a valuable source of information for professional conferences in the US and worldwide. New members are always welcome! For more information on the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA, us please visit the following pages: http://www.facebook.com/korczakUSA and http://www.shiningmtnforkids.com.

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Janusz Korczak Assn of the USA Will Hold Phone Conference – March 18, 2014

INVITATION

 

The Janusz Korczak Association of the USA will have its next meeting on Tuesday, March 18th from 8 pm – 9:30 pm EST (New York time), via conference call. Please call 888-998-2663 and use participant code – 3131820#.

 

If you are planning to attend the call, please let me know by sending email to shiningmtnny@aol.com. Please include items of interest to you so that I can include them in the agenda.

Tentative agenda for the call:

  • Review of the International Korczak Association 2013 activities and reports,
  • Korczak Exhibit in Spring Valley, NY
  • Preparation for the NJ Teachers’ Conference in the fall
  • Translation of Korczakowo information
  • New books from the Korczak Association of Canada
  • Plans for the second newsletter
  • Plans for the summer 2014
  • Membership update

 

If you have articles or any other information for our 2nd newsletter, please send them to me by the end of the month. We have few people who are not able to receive emails and we would like to communicate with them via our newsletter.

If this is your first meeting, please send the following information:

Name:

Organization:

Interest:

Phone Number:

Email Address:

A paragraph about who you are.

 

If you have friends who may be interested to join us, don’t hesitate to share this invitation with them. The purpose of our meetings is to create a core group of people who are interested in carrying Korczak’s legacy in the USA. We all have a desire to do something with the information we have. By creating a working group, we find support, creative ideas and energy to move the work forward.

 

For the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA

Mariola Strahlberg

www.shiningmtnforkids.com

845-425-7243

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An End-of-the-Year Message from Mariola Strahlberg, President of the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA

Dear Supporters of the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA and Shining Mountain Center for Peaceful Childhood,

End of the year is the time for gratitude and giving. I am grateful that together we are making the world around us a better place for children and adults. A special thank you to our generous supporters for their amazing donations that allowed us to take 4 teenagers to Poland and Switzerland this year.

2013 was a big year for us. Together, we were able to establish Janusz Korczak Association of the USA, create a Facebook and LinkedIn presence, publish our first newsletter, and introduce many new people to Janusz Korczak ‘s educational ideas and our special way of working with children, parents, and teachers.

There is much more coming in 2014. We hope to add many new people to our Korczak Association. We are planning a one day pilot for a Korczak camp in the US, considering to take more Children to Korczak Camp in Poland and Youth Conference in Switzerland during the summer. Thanks to my association with the Rockland County School Health and Wellness Coalition, I will be bringing the Five Star Program © to the Head Start of Rockland, Rockland BOSCES, and Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Hospital. Plans are also under way for a one-day workshop for NJ school teachers, sponsored by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education to introduce them to Korczak’s pedagogical ideas with specific examples of lesson plans for their classrooms.

The more I learn about Janusz Korczak, the more amazed I am about his insights and the stronger I feel that our work together is of utmost importance. Consider this timely quote that I found on page 142 in “A Voice for the Child,” a collection of inspirational words of Korczak, compiled by Sandra Joseph in 1999:

“Politicians and legislators make rules and decisions about children which often fail to work.
But who asks the child for his opinion or consent?
Who is likely to take note of any advice or approval from such a naïve being?
What can a child possibly have to say?”

At least we can say and show that we do listen to children and try our best to help them. For our work to continue, your generosity is essential. Please consider Janusz Korczak Association in your year-end giving. Rest assures that each of your contributions will help promote knowledge of Korczak and children’ rights in the USA. Please send your tax deductible generous donations to:

Shining Mountain Center
c/o Janusz Korczak Association of the USA
11 Beckett Ct,
Monsey, NY 10952

I wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful New Year 2014. I look forward to seeing or hearing from all of you soon. To those of you whom I did not meet personally, I look forward to welcoming you in person to our Korczak’s circle in 2014.

For the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA,

Mariola Strahlberg

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The Janusz Korczak Association Will Hold Its 4th Meeting via Conference Call, Monday, September 16, 2013, from 7:00 to 8:30 Eastern Time

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 INVITATION

The Janusz Korczak Association of the USA will have its next meeting on Monday, September 16th from 7pm – 8:30-pm EST (New York time) via conference call. Please call 888-998-2663 and use participant code – 3131820#.

If you are planning to attend the call, please let Mariola Strahlberg know by sending email to shiningmtnny@aol.com.  Please include items of interest to you so that I can include them in the agenda.

Tentative agenda for the call:

  • Report from the trip to Korczakowo, Poland and CATS Conference, Switzerland
  • Korczak’s presentations
  • Korczak’s exhibits
  • Timmy the Great play in NYC
  • Update about Korczak’s Facebook page
  • Update on the Five Star Program©
  • Kurt Bomze’s proposal for 2 projects and letter about Syrian Children.

If you have articles or any other information for our 1st newsletter, please send them to me by September 15th. We have few people who are not able to receive emails and we would like to communicate with them via our newsletter.

If this is your first meeting, please send the following information:

  • Name:
  • Organization:
  • Interest:
  • Phone number:
  • Email address:
  • A paragraph about who you are.

If you have friends who may be interested to join us, don’t hesitate to share this invitation with them. The purpose of our meetings is to create a core group of people who are interested in carrying Korczak’s legacy in the USA.  We all have a desire to do something with the information we have. By creating a working group, we find support, creative ideas and energy to move the work forward.

For the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA.

Mariola Strahlberg

www.shiningmtnforkids.com

845-425-7243

The Man Who Created Light to Overcome Darkness – A Review of The Gate of Light, by Adir Cohen

Though Betty Jean Lifton has written the definitive English-language biography of Janusz Korczak in the form of her excellent The King of Children:  The Life and Death of Janusz Korczak, Adir Cohen here offers an in-depth and insightful portrait of the Polish educator who devoted his life – and ultimately perished for his love of children. He thoroughly covers this beloved children’s advocate’s philosophy of life and learning, as well as how his writings and practices reflect the man, his thoughts, and his personal, ethical, and religious values.

The book starts out with Dr. Korczak’s background and early childhood, both of which were formative in his declaration of his desire to change the world, first as a doctor and later as an educator. The new orphanage at 92 Krochmalna (Warsaw, Poland) is discussed, as is the life of the orphans there. Cohen also chronicles Korczak’s later years – his visits to Kibbutz Ein Harod in Palestine and the increasingly difficult life for Jews under the ominous dark clouds of the rise of Nazism – culminating with the hell that was the Warsaw Ghetto. The primary sources are How to Love a Child and The Ghetto Dairy.

The second chapter explores Korczak’s religious life. Though Korczak was not a member of a temple or other religious institution, Cohen portrays him as a man with an intense religious longing an acute seeker of perfect justice and ideal moral values and behavior. He postulated that one’s perception of God is highly personal, especially as God lies within the soul of each living person, which includes every child. Jewish ritual was a very important part of life at the orphanage, but prayers were always kept in silence, allowing each child and teacher to express or her religious belief individually.

The third chapter discusses his early work in children’s camps and how, though intense reflection, sought to learn from his mistakes as a new teacher. Korczak himself discussed these experiences in a separate chapter of How to Love a Child and how listening to the voice within would become central to his ways as an educator.

Chapter 4 covers the orphanage as “a home and house of education.”  Janusz Korczak sought to discern three elements in the orphanage, namely fulfilling children’s immediate biological needs and protection from outside dangers; ensuring and environment in which each child will be able to develop his or her physical, social, academic, and spiritual talents (with the Alderian concept that each child is unique, with his or her similarly unique background which must be taken into consideration)

Chapter 5 goes into internalizing the father and mother as role models in building the personality of the child. Cohen also discusses the Children’s court, with its focus on education through forgiveness rather than punishment, and the importance of communication through the children’s newspapers and bulletin board, as detailed in How to Love a Child. This theme is explored further in Chapter 10.   Also central to Korczak’s philosophy was that one should not preach but, rather, express a generous (and forgiving) attitude, that corporal punishment in any of its manifestations is wrong, and that learning right from wrong is more important than any academic matter. In short, children must be viewed as persons worthy of respect who should be accorded full human rights.

In Chapter 6, Cohen discusses the importance Korczak placed on child’s play as a moment that belonged entirely to the child, a time in which he or she could realize childhood dreams, especially those they were not sure adults were willing to take seriously.

How Korczak incorporated his background in medicine in his teaching is the topic of Chapter 7, mainly in that he did his best to educate the child but realized he had little control in the child’s ultimate outcome beyond the positive moral values he sought to instill. He went on to show how “to do no harm,” or “to touch without burdening” in Chapter 8.  The educator is obliged to know the secret of giving, the secret of surrender, the secret of devotion.   Moreover, the educator must learn from his mistakes and extend that privilege to his students.  Korczak was very much a progressive educator, in the manner of John Dewey, whereby children are encouraged to learn from experience and free activity rather than being handed orders from above; here Chapter 9 is in a way an extension of Chapter 7, in that children are encouraged to take advantage of life’s opportunities now rather than prepare for some nebulous future. Moreover, children should be encourage to explore and search for new learning rather than rely on material handed down. In addition, Cohen reports that Korczak warned against following a single school of thought in teaching, something that corresponds to his warning not to rely on books – especially a single book – on child rearing.

The remainder of the book explores Korczak’s writings. The Drawing Room Kid exposes the hypocrisy and decadence of the Polish bourgeoisie, especially in their attitudes toward the poor.  Published in 1925, When I Shall Be Little Again, is Korczak’s description how he is able to relate to children on their terms, first imagining himself being little among the adults in his life and then himself as the adult and his peers as children, a feat of literary philosophy that has never been replicated with the skill that Korczak has shown. Korczak also devoted special attention to the relationships among the children, both their compassion and their malice (and how the two polar opposites could seemingly coexist). He has succeeded in showing both how adults view children and how children view adults. In The Senate of Madmen, Korczak explores insanity in multiple manifestations, including his autobiographical memory of his own father, who died in an institution. Cohen quotes other authors’ commentary on how this work is also a metaphor for the madness of institutions in society. Cohen’s chapter on the Ghetto Diary is surprisingly short, but it does a good job in exploring Korczak’s attempt to find meaning in the face of death – what it will mean to him, his orphans, the Jewish people, and humanity overall. This remarkable short book is deep on reflection, almost an abbreviated autobiography. Finally, Cohen explores Korczak’s two-part masterpiece of children’s fairy tale fiction, King Matt and , how these remarkable books have enchanted children and adults who can empathize with children for decades. Unlike most fairy tales, there is no happy ending, except for hope; perhaps that is where happiness ultimately lies. That was certainly true of Korczak himself, as Adir Cohen’s superb study so aptly shows.Image