Intuitive law for the children: a legal historical perspective on educator Janusz Korczak’s thought and practice

Talia Diskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article depicts manifestations of the law in the educational work of renowned Polish-Jewish educator Janusz Korczak, and re-evaluates Korczak’s work in terms of children’s legal education. It does so in relation to the theoretical insights of Polish-Russian legal sociologist Leon Petrażycki–and particularly the notion of “Intuitive Law”, a term that describes the nature of the law as separate from formal state laws and as based on psychological and emotional experiences, when it comes to expressions of progressive justice. To illustrate Korczak’s legal work and to fully understand its intuitive nature, the article closely follows the legal “institutions” in Korczak’s main, Jewish, orphanage, which usually involved the children themselves. Among other things, it offers descriptions of the children’s parliament as it was enacted at the orphanage, the orphans’ court, their self-published newspaper–which promoted progressive democratic views, etc. The article also analyses a sampling of Korczak’s literary works in relation to the field of law. The various testimonies indicate that Korczak viewed the legal practice as a means of education and as a potentially educational aim in itself, and the legal field as a platform for fairness in day-to-day life as part of living law, similarly to Petrażycki’s views.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalPaedagogica Historica
StatePublished - 25 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Korczak
  • Law
  • Petrażycki

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History


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