© 2016 (International Korczak Association/BRPD).

THEORY AND PRACTICE

Thanks to theory — I know; as a result of prac­tice — I feel. Theory enriches the intellect, practice colors feelings, trains the will. I know — does not mean that I act in accordance with what I know. The views of others must crystallize in one's own living ego. I weave from theoretical precepts, but with the possibility of choice. I reject, forget, omit, dodge, ignore. The outcome is my own conscious or uncon­scious theory which guides my actions. [...]

 

Practice is my past, my life, the sum total of subjective experiences, collection of failures, disap­pointments, defeats, victories and triumphs, negative and positive sensations. Practice distrustfully controls and censors theory, tries to each it in lies, in blunders. [...]

 

The legitimate function of theory is to support my outlook, never to negate, un­dermine, embroil. [...]

 

I make a start from what others know, I build according to my own capabilities, I yearn honestly, completely, not under external orders, under the pressure of control by others, but out of my own, un­constrained goodwill, under the wakeful eye of con­science. Not as a matter of conformity but to enrich my own self. [...]

The teacher is indirectly responsible to society for the future, but for the present he is directly and pre­eminently responsible to the child under his care. [...]

Whoever finds a clash between theory and practice has not developed emotionally to the level of current theory; let him not learn any more from books and prints but from life; he does not lack ready prescrip­tions but the moral strength, won by sweat, to feel truth, to make a blood brother of the truth of theory. [...]

 

Korczak J. (January 1924), The Special School, Theory and Practice, Selection from Polish by Martin Wolins (1967)

Wednesday, 13th September

 Rights of the Child

The child – already a resident, a citizen and already a human being

Nasz Dom, 1928

 

In the past years, the rights of the child have achieved dynamic growth
in terms of social awareness and political action. Thanks to Janusz Korczak’s sense of pedagogical, ethical and social responsibility, certain values and norms regarding the relations of adults and children have been nominated for the status of children's rights. Hence, it is no coincidence that Korczak is commonly viewed as the father of children's rights. His philosophy and understanding of the responsibility for the child and the child’s subjectivity became the spirit in which the Convention on the Rights of the Child was constructed - the document in which the international community recognized the need for the special protection of children against various threats, the provision of appropriate conditions for children to reach development of potential and children’s democratic participation by raising the personal status of children and integrating them into society. Protection, provision and participation (the 3Ps) together, constitute the ideological backbone upon which the rights of the child are expressed in the Convention. Going beyond legal rights and equality, we must promote a just society by challenging injustice and a shared humanity which is manifested in everyday lives of people.

Thursday,  14th September

Philosophy, Pedagogy and Practice

Schools should be the forge through which flows all that is life-affirming.

Janusz Korczak,[Głos,1905]

 

The name Janusz Korczak can be found listed in UNESCO’s 100 famous educators together with Pestalozzi, Dewey and Gandhi, as those who have left their mark on global educational thought. Being a widely published and accomplished public speaker, Korczak’s influence found its way across Europe, from the Russian education system and to the research centres of Switzerland. However, a century later his educational work is overshadowed by his biography, limited translations into English and his ideas being well ahead of his time. He directed a plea to each and every one of us who works directly or indirectly with children to employ critical reflection on our actions every day. Despite leaving us no specific theory or strict method, his catch cry, to repair education is to repair society which still rings true for policymakers, educators, academics and families around the world. Drawing upon his deep insights into subjectivity and human agency, we hope to generate a discourse with sufficient momentum to turn our words into deeds and inspire others. “Thanks to theory I know it, thanks to practice I feel it” Korczak writes as a perfect accompaniment to the art and science that is pedagogy and teaching.

Friday, 15th September

History & Remembrance

 

So it has been. It was such…

J. Korczak, Bobo 1914

 

Memory is simultaneously given to us, as it is generated by and through us. Memory is living, evolving, also changing our understanding of it and how it influences our life. Of key importance is how our relation to memory, shapes our identity, community ethos and educational activities. The changing understanding of and relationship between memory and history is perhaps the most significant sign of a new era in the history of memory. Until recent modernity, the accusation of a dominant history, meant conquest and eradication of memory. Today, an important historical source has become the oral history, with the past generation constantly seeking for itself new forms of existence. What is the role played in current memory in the process of the development of the individual, community building and intercultural integration? To ensure that the past becomes a memory, there is a constant need for the implementation of its forms into the present and a living dialogue with her. Memory of the Future refers us to the reflective dimensions of reference for our debate. The first of these is the awareness of the dynamic changes, to which contemporary memory is subjected to, and the attempt to grasp them in the perspective of what is coming and towards that which we are heading. The second dimension concerns the understanding of a culture and ecology of "practice" of the past, or remembrance, and its importance in shaping the future.

Saturday,16th September
Children's Rights - Uncovering the Future

The only sense, the only reason of life - your hundreds of children - to work for the hundreds of thousands of the others - stand with them to fight for their rights!

Janusz Korczak ,  Świt 1907