Michael Parciak And Janusz Korczak: Ideas And Suggestions

Michael Parciak, who was the Chief Architect of Korczak City on the Internet in the late 90s, had many ideas and suggestions for disseminating the legacy of Janusz Korczak.    One of his main concerns was how Korczak’s ideas could be applied to the present and future of education.  He felt strongly that Korczak was absolutely necessary in a world that deals with the issues of children’s rights.  Michael wanted to spread Korczak’s philosophy to countries where children were at particular risk due to the lack of supportive legislation.

We know that Korczak viewed the child as a complete human being, which was entitled to definite rights.  His view was quite the opposite of that of the Middle Ages, in which a child was considered a dwarfish version of an adult and the paintings of that time reflect it.  A child needed instruction to become complete and it is no wonder that some of the earliest children’s verses in England deal with manners and behavior.  Korczak was a visionary, who even now is not understood fully.  Michael Parciak was a visionary in realizing the immense possibilities of the internet when it was just gaining prominence.  He felt that the internet could spread Korczak’s conceptions throughout the globe and offer children from all countries the opportunity to participate in an educational forum.  And so, Korczak City came into being.

Michael saw Korczak City as an innovative model in establishing multicultural, multilingual and multi-social contacts between children of all countries.  Korczak City would be a means of promoting partnership contacts between schools and children in which educational projects could be shared through the internet.   Michael foresaw what is commonplace today:  internet libraries, school books, teachers, lessons and interactive lessons.  What Michael Parciak planned, however, is by no means finished; it is an ongoing project.  As long as children’s rights are violated, Janusz Korczak’s and Michael Parciak’s ideas remain ideals to be achieved.

Michael Parciak Speaks About Janusz Korczak And Children’s Rights, Part 1.

In 1997, we at MEI had planned a Janusz Korczak Symposium, which did not take place due to problems with my health.  The previous year, we had acquainted educators with the work of Vasilii Sukhomlinsky in an effort to bring teachers and theorists from Russia, Ukraine and the U.S. closer together.  We chose Sukhomlinsky, and later, Korczak, because their pioneering work coincided with our motto:  Nothing is more important than the education of a child–heart, mind, and spirit.  Although plans for the Korczak Symposium had to be canceled, I was fortunate enough to contact many proponents of Korczak’s seminal work for children.  One of the people I contacted was Michael Parciak from Germany, the Chief Architect of Korczak City on the Internet.  What happened to this project, I was unable to discover.  Also, I could not find Michael Parciak.  However, I did locate an article he had written for MEI in May-June 1997 and I felt I should share some of it with you, because it contains interesting information concerning Janusz Korczak.

…The children’s court and the children’s newspaper… were important parts of Korczak’s philosophy of education in integrating  the children into all the important decisions, and demonstrating the relation between the granted rights and the required responsibilities.  The newspaper was used also for spelling practice and an exercise in developing one’s own opinions.  The children’s court was a steady exercise toward developing one’s own feelings for justice and social responsibility.  The judges were equipped with easy texts on common law to enable them to reach a just decision.  It was similar to the Napoleonic Code, which is still the basis of Polish laws, but it had one addition:  the right to forgive and to prefer forgiving more than punishment.

From the preamble of the text:

In case somebody has done wrong, it is better to forgive than to punish.  In case the incident happened as a result of inexperience, the subject will now know better.  In case the incident happened with knowledge, the subject will be more careful in the future… but the court must protect the shy from the aggressive, and the careful from the apathetic and lazy.

The court is not justice itself, but its goal is to achieve justice.  It is not truth, but its goal is the truth.  Judges might make mistakes.  Sometimes they might punish an action that they have committed themselves.  But it is a disgrace if a judge forces an unjust decision.

The court had to be dissolved for four weeks, because several aggressive kids did sabotage it.  When the court was reactivated there were new requirements.  The Premium Court would consist of two children and one adult for a three month term.  And children now had the right to accuse adults.(More in another post.)