Touched by the Spirit of Janusz Korczak: Liba Engel

used with permission from The Champion of Children, by Tomek Bogacki

visit the following links for articles about Janusz Korczak


Donations can be made online via PayPal.


How I “met” Janusz Korczak

Liba Engel, PhD
It is hard to imagine that I “met” Janusz Korczak for the first time almost 30 years ago.  Prior to the first meeting of the Greater Lafayette (IN) Holocaust Remembrance Conference committee meeting, I noticed a poster of a man with piercing blue eyes; the poster hung outside my father’s Rabbi Gedalyah Engel’s office, B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation.  I was curious to know who the person was.  My father and I did not have a change to have an exchange prior to the commencement of our meeting; instead he asked me to ask another member of the committee.  I later learned the story of Janusz Korczak and decided if I ever needed to write a dissertation on such a selfless and amazing person, it would be Janusz Korczak.
Fast forward to Teachers College Columbia University. I am a graduate student in the Department of Curriculum & Teaching.  While in the library at Columbia University, in the days of card catalogues, I stumbled across Korczak and decided I would read some of his pedagogy.  As I did, tears rolled down my cheeks  – I finally found a pedagogist who felt the same way I did about children.
Fast forward to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I am furthering my education in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching.  I needed to find a topic for my dissertation.  It was an easy task for me; I knew it would have something to do with Korczak.  And indeed my dissertation, The Pedagogy of Janusz Korczak in the Hadera Democratic School:  Twentieth Century Reform in Modern Israel, evolved.  I passed my defense; I was a doctor of philosophy.
Since my return to the United States of America I have continued to write about Janusz Korczak. In addition, I sit on the Board of Directors of Shining Mountain CPC, a center dedicated to Korczak’s pedagogy.

Photograph of Janusz Korczak, 1933,reprinted courtesy of Beit Lohana Haghetaov, Ghetto Fighter’s House, Israel,and Janusz Korczak Workshop Archives, Warsaw.

Does School Reform Have Legs? the Flourishing of Janusz Korczak’s Pedagogy in Modern Israel
Journal article by Liba H. Engel; The Educational Forum, Vol. 68, 2004
Experiments in Democratic Education: Dewey’s Lab School and Korczak’s Children’s Republic
Journal article by Liba H. Engel; Social Studies, v99 n3 p117-121 May-Jun 2008