An event focused on the life of Dr. Janusz Korczak, a well-known physician, author, pedagogue and radio personality in pre-World War II Poland, will include a presentation from genocide expert and HWS Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski. The event jointly sponsored by Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Nazareth College will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 4 in the Otto A. Shults Community Center at Nazareth College.
“In his writings and in his work, Korczak developed an innovative array of educational practices that motivated children from broken and stressed families to re-form themselves during the 5-7 years they lived in the orphanage,” says Dobkowski. “For anyone who believes in the importance of respecting children and promoting their moral development, Korczak’s life and work can serve as a great model and inspiration.”
The beloved director of two Warsaw orphanages, where he honed revolutionary ideas about children’s rights, Korczak was killed by the Nazis, along with the orphans in his care, in the Treblinka extermination camp sometime in 1942. In 1978 UNESCO honored the centenary of his birth by declaring it the “Year of Janusz Korczak” and in 1989 the United Nations based the Convention of the Rights of the Child on his work.
Born into a Jewish family in Warsaw, Korczak was trained as a pediatrician, and first became known for a series of children’s books that took the form of fairy tales with lessons for young readers, including Kaytek the Wizard and King Matt the First. His pedagogical works include When I am Little Again, The Child’s Right to Respect and Loving Every Child.
The panel discussion is sponsored by The March: Bearing Witness to Hope, a joint Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Nazareth College program that brings students, faculty, staff and community members on a journey to important World War II-era landmarks and historical sites in Europe. This year’s trip will take place in May, and will include a visit to one of Korczak’s orphanages.
Dobkowski, who leads The March along with staff members from Nazareth College, has been on the HWS faculty since 1976. He is an expert on genocide, terrorism and the Holocaust who holds a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from New York University. A prolific writer, he is the author of The Tarnished Dream: The Basis of American Anti-Semitism, The Politics of Indifference: Documentary History of Holocaust Victims in America, and Jewish American Voluntary Organizations, and is the co-author of Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear States & Terrorism.
In addition to Dobkowski, the panel will include Nazareth’s president, Daan Braveman; Associate Professor of Education at Nazareth Jennie Schaff; and Penfield High School teacher Laura Streeter.