CHARTING COURSE: there is more in you than you think!

Kurt Hahn led a remarkable life as an educator and shaper of modern Education philosophy. During the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party in the early 1930s, he was principal of a German boarding school and spoke out after Stormtroopers killed a Communist boy in front of his mother. For this, he was thrown in jail and later exiled from his homeland. 

Hahn fled to Scotland where he established a school for boys called Gordonstoun and endured the agony of watching World War II unfold. Of Jewish descent, he knew that many of his family, friends, former students, and colleagues were disappearing into Nazi concentration camps. He agonised over what could make thousands of average men and women willingly play a part in this. How could others stand by and passively allow it to happen? 

Hahn knew that human beings were also capable of the exact opposite behaviour. This was more than evident from the many Europeans who put their own safety and their family's lives in danger while harbouring Jews and political refugees. Underground resistance had spread throughout Europe. 

He realised that people had the potential to fulfil either destiny and began to observe his students at Gordonstoun more closely. In his research, he found that young children have natural compassion and strong values and principles, but this could change around the age of 15 if six declines in contemporary society were not challenged:

  • The decline of fitness due to modern methods of moving about
  • The decline of initiative and enterprise due to widespread ‘spectator-itis’
  • The decline in memory and imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life
  • The decline of skill and care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship
  • The decline of self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquillisers   
  • The decline of compassion due to the ‘unseemly haste’ with which modern life is conducted

Hahn told his students that there was more in them than they realised and devised a program that would challenge them to become the best version of themselves. Educating mind, body and character were at the heart of his philosophy and Gordonstoun developed a celebrated reputation in Britain, with many wealthy families sending their sons to the school. One of those students, Philip Mountbatten, later became Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, when he married Queen Elizabeth. 

It was this formative experience that led Prince Philip in 1956 to invite Hahn to partner with him in a program for young people, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. At the foundation of the program was Hahn's philosophy of challenging experiences that involved the whole person: their hearts, minds, and hands. 

There are four dimensions to completing Duke of Edinburgh awards:

  • Fitness training
  • Expeditions
  • Projects 
  • Rescue service/community service

Hahn found that by challenging teenagers mentally, physically, and emotionally, they became self-reliant, compassionate, disciplined, and determined.  


While academic performance, creative power, enlivened ideas and faith, problem-solving, and valuing diversity and inclusiveness are central to our Christian educational mandate, we also focus on fostering the character traits of resilience, reflection, respect, responsibility, empathy, and caring. 

BAC has designed a wraparound educational approach that incorporates character-building programs. These are based on many of the same principles and practical tools promoted by Prince Philip (6 February 1921 to 9 April 2021) and philosopher Kurt Hahn. As a proud Duke of Edinburgh Award school, every student at BAC participates in modules of the DofE program.

Our goal is to help our students become the best version of themselves, to become crew rather than mere passengers, and to fully realise their God-gifted potential.

AUTHOR: Principal Leanne Entermann writes a series of articles called 'Charting Course' in which she talks about topics important to the future direction of our College.