Skip to content

Kurt Hahn’s “Six declines of Modern Youth” (and “Four Antidotes”)

Hahn identified what he called the ‘Six Declines of Modern Youth’ and the ‘Four Antidotes to the Declines of Modern Youth’.  These were:

The Six Declines of Modern Youth:

  1. Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion (moving about);
  2. Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of ‘spectatoritis’;
  3. Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life;
  4. Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship;
  5. Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquillisers; 
  6. Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted, or as William Temple called it, “spiritual death”.

The Four Antidotes to the Declines of Modern Youth:

  1. Fitness Training (to compete with one’s self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body);
  2. Expeditions (via sea or land to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks);
  3. Projects (involving crafts and manual skills); and
  4. Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

I wonder how Kurt Hahn would identify the needs of young people today.  I suspect that his views on the ‘declines’ would endure, as would his ‘antidotes’.  

Skip to content