Janusz Korczak Biography (Henryk Goldschmidt)
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Confessions of a Butterfy
I am a butterfly drunk with life. I don´t know where to soar,but I won´t allow life to clip my colorful wings what a classic quote this really is and the escape of flight even in the mind is an escape a child would take and the disrespect for children is a lesson Henryk was never to forget.The adult world cannot intersect the world of the child. They are not compatible for the most part. The imagination for Henryk was a place to escape or disappear to and that he did and he wrote poetry and learned foreign languages and travel. Reading and writing are indeed escapes from a brutal,cruel and self-imposed ignorant world.
Henryk was tutored at home by governesses until he was seven, as was the
custom in educated circles, and then sent to a "strict, boring, and oppressive"
Russian elementary school where Polish language and history were forbidden
subjects. Punitive teachers pulled children by the ears and beat them with
rulers or a cat-o'-nine-tails.
He never forgot the way a boy who urinated on
the blackboard eraser as a prank was spread out on a desk by the janitor, who
held his legs while the composition teacher stood over him with a switch. " I
was terrified.It seemed to me that when they finished with him, I would be next.
I was ashamed, too, because they beat him on his bare bottom.They unbuttoned
everything -in front of the whole class. "
He became so nervous at the very
thought of going to school that his parents withdrew him after a few months. But
one lesson he learned there remained with him: Children are not respected by
adults. He would notice how children were trampled in the streetcar, yelled at
for nothing, slapped for accidentally bumping into someone. They were always
being threatened: " I´ll give you to a wicked old man! " " You´ll be put in a
bag! "" A beggar will take you away! "He would write of children as a powerless,
suppressed class, a little people subjugated by a race of big people: " The
adult world revolves around the sensitive child at a dizzying speed. Nothing, no
one can be trusted. Grownups and children cannot understand each other. It is as
if they are different species. "
Henryk was eleven in 1889 when his father
suffered the first of the breakdowns that would take him in and out of mental
hospitals for the next seven years and drain the financial resources of the
family. To escape the tensions in his troubled household, the boy disappeared
even deeper into the world of his imagination. At thirteen he was writing poetry
and expanding his horizons-he would learn foreign languages, travel, be a
naturalist, a writer.