Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer camp ends back to Warsaw Korczak goes to Berlin to study

Korczak arrives in Berlin to study after camp ends. Camp is contrasted with Warsaw the big dirty city with all of its attendant ills.The campfire and the last sunset and the stork's nest. How nature has a spiritual and healing affect on these young boys!. Germany, Berlin, was looked to for light and knowledge and Janusz went there to study community hygiene and infant and orphan services. He took other courses he paid for (he lamented this as knowledge for sale) in neurology, electrocardiography,tuberculosis and other childhood diseases.He admired their advanced techniques but their automated approach posed doubts if he learned much to apply tro his own practice and this confirmed that in the last analysis ,he would himself have to test and confirm relying on his own observations and not any theory. Korczak studied under world famous German Jewish pediatricians Heinrich Finkelstein and Adolf Baginski, and shorter visits to insane asylums and detention centers and was able to more than glimpse the face of poverty stricken boys with brutal fathers. In the book Jozki, Jaski, and Franki, he was at camp with 150 Polish boys, authentic rascals, and won the trust of these children of poverty with arranged humor. Note the Minister in the Blue Shirt episode explained below and the way Korczak handled it, himself bursting into laughter.Note the softening of the 3rd culprit and the forest prayer episode related below. The Jewish Monthly asked Korczak to compare Jewish and Polish children and he quoted John Ruskin as saying:that one should look for the similarities and not the differences in children. (Quote) He contrasted himself to the true scientist in trusting his personal experience and not psychological tests whereby he did not trust their results. Thew return to the old despair at the Children's Hospital was not in vain and it was no9t a fortuitous occurence , his meeting Stefania (Stefa) Wilczynska, htrough his colleague Izaak Eliasberg, The occasion was that the Orphans' Aid Society was fund raising for a shelter it supported. They coulod draw wealthy philanthropists and Janusz accepted and met there Stefa who helped make possible his ideal haven for poor children.

On the day before the boys were to return to Warsaw, Oscar, the camp poet,
The children celebrate because they are going horne.They will
exchange the green forests for the dank walls.Theflowerslaugh in the sun now,But
when winter comes>> they willfade.
That night the boys surprised their
counselor by presenting him with a stork´s nest. Then they all sat around a
campfire watching their last sunset. Tomorrow in Warsaw they would not see such
a beautiful sight, Korczak reminded them, only the ugly yellow lanterns that
lined the streets. It was the lamplighter who changed day into night in the
city, while in their camp it was the sun itself that turned off the light and
turned on the night.
As the sun dipped into the horizon, disappearing little
by little, a few boys cried out, "It>>s gone!"
"No, there"s still a
little left,´>> others shouted.
"And now we should take each other by
the hand, sing our song, wave our flag over our heads, and begin walking,"
Korczak told them."But not back to Warsaw.""Where? Where should we walk?" the
boys wanted to know."To the sun."
Everyone was surprised."It will be a long
journey but we can do it. We´ll sleep in the fields and earn money along the
way."The boys entered into the spirit. Gerson could play his violin in exchange
for some milk, Oscar could recite one of his poems and Aaron one of his tales in
exchange for bread."We will walk, walk, walk for a very long time," their
counselor told them. "If Weintraub gets tired, we´ll make a wheelchair and take
turns pushing him." "And then what?" asked the boys.The bell rang, calling them
to supper before he could answer. The next day they made their way by train back
to Warsaw, and shortly after that Korczak left for almost a year in Europe.

In going to Berlin that fall to do advanced work in pediatric medicine,
Korczak was following in the tradition of Jan Dawid and other Polish
intellectuals who had looked to Germany for "light and knowledge." Berlin, the
capital of the prosperous German Empire, had one of the best medical systems on
the continent:
it was known for its highlv developed program in community
hygiene and its infant and orphan services.
While deciding whether or not to
make the trip - it meant taking a leave from the Children>> s Hospital and
from his mother as well-Korczak discussed the pros and cons with his colleagues,
some ofwhom felt he would benefit from study there, and others that he would be
Of all the suggestions given him about how to behave with the
Germans, he chose to take only two seriously: not to indulge his penchant for
shaking hands indiscriminately with everyone regardless of rank, and to change
his collar twice a day.
Korczak did not arrive in the capital city as a
famous writer but as a poor student. He found a modest room that was clean and
offered a regular change of towels - breakfast was included but some nights he
had only enough money for two glasses of milk and bread.
He admired Berlin´s
good bus system (which Warsaw lacked) and its many free libraries, open twelve
hours a day, but the city seemed "indifferent" to his presence. From August to
September he took vacation refresher courses for doctors sponsored by the Berlin
Medical Association. He was impressed that the professors, like the buses, were
always on time, but he hated the idea ofhaving to pay for lectures
. Selling
knowledge made the university into a "marketplace." Nevertheless, he chose
special courses, along with other foreigners, in neurology and
electrocardiography, and studied the latest findings on tuberculosis and other
childhood illnesses.
Watching how the Germans checked urine and took blood, he
couldn>>t help comparing their advanced medical techniques with the less
developed ones in Poland. Yet, by the end of two months>> he felt he was
in a "factory." Reading over bis notes, he wasn´t certain that he had learned
very much that would help him in his own practice; they only confirmed what he
already knew. that he had to rely on his own observations, and not accept any
theory that he had not tested himself.
Korczak also spent two months each
studying under the world-famous German-Jewish pediatricians Heinrich Finkelstein
and Adolf Baginski, one month in a home for the retarded and another in Theodor
Ziehen´s psychiatric clinic at the Charité. He made shorter visits to insane
asylums and detention centers for so-called juvenile delinquents. Leaving
Germany in the late spring of 1908, he stopped off in Switzerland, where he
interned for one month in a neurological clinic in Zurich. When he re- turned to
Warsaw in the early summer of 1908, he was struck by how poor and provincial the
city was
Before resuming work at the Children>>s Hospital on Sliska
Street, Korczak treated himself to four weeks at a camp for one hundred and
fifty Polish boys, where there was "no lack of authentic rascals."
In the book
he wrote about this experience, Jozki, Jaski, and Franki, his readers were once
again charmed by the adventures of the awkward, bespectacled counselor trying to
reach street urchins set loose in nature for the first time. But though he was
playing the buffoon in print, he was still trying to develop the strategies he
had worked out the year before at the Jewish camp. These children of poverty,
many with drunken fathers and invalid mothers who could not care for them, also
set snares for him, but this time he was prepared. He carefully memorized
everyone´s name and made notes on his initial impressions, spotting the most
aggressive boys, who were certain to be troublemakers. On the second day, when
the boys became raucous in the dormitory before dawn, he heard one proclaim: "I
am the Minister in the Blue Shirt!" Instead of being angry, Korczak stomped in
dramatically and asked; "All right, who is the Minister in the Blue Shirt?"
tension lifted as he burst out laughing. "Like Napoleon winning a battle with
one successful attack," he had won the trust of the children-a trust "without
which it would not only be impossible to write a book about children, but also
impossible to love, rear, or even observe them."
Experimenting further with
his court, he noted that when three of the meanest boys were outrageous enough
to steal berries from little Jasiek, who was weak and stuttered, the judges
acquitted them because they had already been punished by the other campers who
refused to play with thieves. Two of the culprits became friendly and kind right
after that, but the third didn>>t until he heard "the forest´s prayer"
-that moment when the trees speak and the sky answers. Whoever hears it "feels
funny in his soul" and bursts into tears although he´s not sad, and doesn´t know
why. And the next day he wakes up much better than he was before he heard the
As he worked to help his Jozkis overcome their problems, he was
reminded of the struggles of his Moshkis. Years later, when the Jewish Monthly
asked him to compare Jewish and Polish children, he quoted John Ruskin´s opinion
that one should look for the similarities and not the differences in children.

With wry self-mockery, he contrasted himself to the "true scientist" who would
test 32,000 mice to the eighth generation to find out the influence of alcohol
on the mouse, while he had access to only two hundred children a year. And even
ifhe believed in psychological tests, how could he trust the results? True, he
had heard it said that Jewish children were more emotional than Polish, but he
had seen tears of joy and sorrow in both groups watching the same movie-and
without counting the tears one by one, he would not feel qualified to verify the
emotional superiority of either group. He preferred answers based on personal
Back at his post at the Children>>s Hospitalthat
September, Korczak found his old despair waiting for him. What was he doing
there? What good was it to cure sick children when they only returned to their
unhealthy surroundings? When a colleague, Izaak Eliasberg, a highly respected
diagnostician in dermatitis and venereal disease
, told him about the Orphans Aid
Society, to which he and his wife, Stella, belonged, Korczak listened carefully.
The Society was holding a fund-raising party for a shelter it supported
. They
could draw some wealthy philanthropists if he were able to come.
accepted, little knowing how fortuitous the occasion would be. He was to meet
Stefania (Stefa) Wilczynska, a woman who would not only share his dream of
creating an ideal haven for poor children, but would help make it possible.

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