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

Kurt Hahn led a remarkable life as educator and shaper of modern educational 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 have stood by and passively allowed it to happen? 

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

He finally 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 fifteen 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 continually told his students that there was more in them than they realised and challenged them to become the best version of themselves. Educating mind, body and spirit was at the heart of his philosophy and his school developed a strong reputation in Britain, with many wealthy families sending their sons to the school, including one student by the name of Philip Mountbatten who later became Prince Philip when he married Queen Elizabeth. 

It was this formative experience that led Prince Philip in 1956 to invite Hahn to partner with him on the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. The foundation of the program was Hahn's philosophy of providing challenging experiences and encouraging the participation of the whole person: their hearts, minds and hands. 

There were four main activities:

  • Fitness training
  • Expeditions
  • Projects 
  • Rescue service

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


We value holistic education at Brisbane Adventist College. Not only are we concerned with academic performance, creative power, curiosity and problem solving, we’re also concerned with enlivening ideas and beliefs, valuing diversity and inclusiveness, fostering service, resilience, reflection, respect, responsibility, empathy and caring. All of these character traits serve young people for life and eternity. 

Through involvement in real life experiences such as mission service, peer mentoring, and projects and expeditions, students become ‘crew’ rather than mere ‘passengers’. This is the mindset that will takes them into a future where they can serve God and their community faithfully and well.   

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.