There was an error in this gadget

Monday, March 30, 2009

The fifth page for March 29, 2009
"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

I live in a house of avid readers. There are books in every room, and on most flat surfaces. There is a constant flow of books in and out of our house. We buy, and borrow new things to read all the time. I am grateful for the access we have to stories, and to insights and information.

Most weeks my wife takes our 7 year old son to the library. This usually happens while our daughter is next door, at the public pool for her synchronized swimming lesson. This past week our son came home with a book called “Ten Amazing People: And How They Changed the World”. Written by Maura Shaw, and published by Skylight Paths, it contains stories of people who, by acting out of their convictions, made a difference. I was familiar with the stories of all ten, except for a man named Janusz Korczak.

Janusz Korczak was actually the pen name of a man named Henryk Goldszmit who lived in Poland before the Second World War. He was an acclaimed author, a teacher, and a paediatrician. His passion in life was working with children. He was one of the first to call for a Declaration of Children’s Rights, more than 50 years before the Geneva Convention on the Rights of the Child was passed in 1989. He once wrote,

“Children are not the people of tomorrow, but are people of today. They have a right to be taken seriously, and to be treated with tenderness and respect. They should be allowed to grow into whoever they were meant to be. The unknown person inside each of them is our hope for the future.”

The brief article in the “Ten Amazing People” book inspired me to learn more about Dr. Korczak. His grandfather was a physician, and his father was a prolific author. His father also suffered with mental health issues, and according to some accounts, may have committed suicide while in a mental institution.

It seems that Korczak’s passion for the care and education of children was rooted at least partially in difficulties in his own childhood. One writer said, “Reaching into his childhood and formative years, he discovered that his upbringing and schooling were built on serious flaws, which surfaced in occassional pangs of distress and loneliness. He felt deprived of love and support, and in his mature years wrote a philosophical treatise entitled How to Love a Child.”

In “How to Love a Child”, Korczak offers insight into the connection between self-awareness, and our capacity to understand a child that has continued to inspire and challenge educators to this day:

"You yourself are the child whom you must learn to know, rear, and above all, enlighten."