Kurt Hahn (5 June 1886 – 14 December 1974) was a German-born British educator whose philosophy inspired several innovative educational movements, including The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award
Whenever you have to deal with a boy who is a rebel, remember that you must not fail at some time or other to get him to face the question, Are you going to be a fighter or a quarreller?
What is it that is done to our children that their puberty should deform them? They have the joy of movement; they have an enterprising curiosity; they are ready for sensible self-denial; they dream ahead, and they have a faithful memory, and, above all, great compassion. [...] The well-meaning educator who flatters and humours the young not only does a disservice to the community, but also damages the individual by depriving him of the opportunities of self-discovery.
There can be no doubt that the young of today have to be protected against certain poisonous effects inherent in present-day civilization. Five social diseases surround them, even in early childhood. There is the decline in fitness due to modern methods of locomotion; the decline in initiative due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis; the decline in care and skill due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship; the decline in self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of tranquilizers and stimulants, and the decline in compassion, which William Temple called “spiritual death.”
The passion of rescue reveals the highest dynamic of the human soul.
I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion.
An eminent man challenged me to explain what sailing in a schooner could do for international education. In reply, I said we had at that moment the application before us for a future king of an Arab country to enter Gordonstoun. I happened to have at the school some Jews… If the Arab and one of these Jews were to go out sailing on our schooner, perhaps in a Northeasterly gale, and if they were become thoroughly seasick together, I would have done something for international education.
There are three ways of trying to win the young. You can preach at them—that is a hook without a worm. You can say, “You must volunteer”—that is of the devil. And you can tell them, “You are needed”—that appeal hardly ever fails.