With her comic “Children first”, Priscilla Horviller pays tribute to the Polish pediatrician who died during deportation and who inspired new pedagogies

We owe the respectful and benevolent upbringing of today to him: Janusz Korcsak is the hero of a comic strip published earlier this year. An illustrator from Lyon tells the incredibly moving story of this Pole who dedicated his life to children.

It’s a name that doesn’t mean much to most of us, and yet, Janusz Korczak (1878-1942) is said to have had a strong influence on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in the 1980s. A pediatrician, writer and educator, this Polish Jew, who was executed by the Nazis in the Treblinka death camp while trying to save 192 children, left behind many writings on pedagogy. He would have even inspired the famous Maria Montessori to start her schools.

A bold and exemplary journey that touched designer Priscilla Horviller. Together with screenwriter Stéphane Tamaillon, she pays homage to him in a comic published by Steinkis. children first.

He dedicated his life to the children until his death, Janusz Korczak was more than a pediatrician. He founded two orphanages in Poland and organized them into republics with a parliament, court and newspaper. His goal was to give young residents responsibility and autonomy. Qualities that are essential for good development and that he describes in his novel King Mathias 1. A teenage tale with avant-garde ideas, it tells the story of a child king who defies convention by wanting everyone to be happy.

In her album, Priscilla Horviller takes up the leitmotif cThe character of Mathias I. From his childhood cradled by his benevolent grandmother to his adolescence struck by a strict upbringing, the story then follows the struggle of the adult who has always stood up for protection the youngest. “He’s a character that touched me a lot because he dedicated his life to pedagogy, he’s really the forerunner of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she reports.

From a young age, Janusz Korczak was appalled by the corporal punishment of his classmates. We are at the end of the 19th century and the concept of goodwill towards children is far from being anchored in people’s consciousness. The Pole is a pediatrician and has a passion for child psychology.

At 34, the doctor introduces democracy and the right to love to his orphanage. With it, traditional pedagogy is shaken. “He makes a lot of mistakes, he tests things, he experiments, we can see that it’s not easy, but in any case we have the feeling that he really listens and is on a child’s level.”says Priscilla Horviller.
Janusz Korczak is a contemporary of Maria Montessori. The famous educator was inspired in part by his work to develop his own pedagogical method, which is still taught today.

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“Children first” by Priscilla Horviller and Stéphane Tamaillon edited by Steinkis (Steinkis)

“Children First”, by Priscilla Horviller and Stéphane Tamaillon.

Published on January 27, 2022 by Steinkis Editions. 160 pages – 20€

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