Janusz Korczak (1879 – 1942) was born in Poland and was one of the world’s first child rights advocates; he must also be considered one of the greatest. His influence on our contemporary thinking and discourse about childhood and childcare places him in the ranks of such luminaries as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Heinrich Pestalozzi and Maria Montessori and his impact on international child rights policies, laws and practices is unparalleled.
In addition, he was a brilliant doctor and superb writer of books for adults and young people, who during his life and since has inspired millions in his native country, across Europe and around the world.
It is, therefore, puzzling that he is not a household name in North America, and why his life and work are not more central in our programs of education, law, social work, child development and human rights.
Korczak (as he is fondly referred to by devotees of his work) is one of those complex and enigmatic people who can reach out across the years and captivate one’s attention and imagination, and never let go. I must admit to having been captured by Korczak, and I continue to be drawn to his writings in search of understanding, challenge and inspiration. As one of Korczak’s translators, Igor Newerly, has said, knowing Korczak’s story and reading his writings
makes one, “a slightly better [person], slightly more complete”.
He is considered the Godfather and prime inspiration of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely adopted human rights instrument in the world. This series of lectures and discussions on Korczak and his legacies will offer an opportunity to become more acquainted with the man and his impact on our global approach to children. It is a privilege to be part of this initiative of the Janusz Korczak Association of Canada.
Dr. Jim Anglin, Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria