Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Kurt Hahn, fully Kurt Martin "the rod" Hahn

German Educator

"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."

"Your disability is your opportunity."

"As our society has become information rich, it has become action poor. It has become poor in the necessity and possibility for struggle against the environment. As affluence has increased, the young person's environment has become impoverished for responsible and productive action, or any action that tests and develops him."

"Without self-discovery, a person may still have self confidence, but it is a self confidence built on ignorance and it melts in the face of heavy burdens. Self discovery is the end product of a great challenge mastered, when the mind commands the body to do the seemingly impossible, when courage and strength are summoned to extraordinary limits for the sake of something outside the self--a principle, an onerous task, another human life."

"There are three ways of trying to win the young. There is persuasion. There is compulsion and there is attraction. You can preach at them; that is a hook without a worm. You can say "you must volunteer." That is the devil. And you can tell them, "you are needed" that hardly ever fails."

"Education must enable young people to effect what they have recognized to be right, despite hardships, despite dangers, despite inner skepticism, despite boredom, and despite mockery from the world. "

"Six Declines of Modern Youth: Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis; Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life; Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship; Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers; And worst of all: Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death"."

"Seven Laws of Salem: Give children the opportunity for self-discovery. [Give them a chance to discover themselves.] Make the children meet with triumph and defeat. [See to it that they experience both success and defeat.] Give the children the opportunity of self-effacement in the common cause. [See to it that they have the chance to forget themselves in the pursuit of a common cause.] Provide periods of silence. [See to it that there are periods of silence.] Train the imagination. [Train the imagination, the ability to participate and plan.] Make games important but not predominant. [Take sports and games seriously, but only as part of the whole.] Free the sons of the wealthy and powerful from the enervating sense of privilege. [Free them of the rich and influential parents and from the paralysing influence of wealth and privelege.] "

"The experience of helping a fellow man in danger, or even of training in a realistic manner to be ready to give this help, tends to change the balance of power in a youth's inner life with the result that compassion can become the master motive."

"The passion of rescue reveals the highest dynamic of the human soul."

"There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less."

"It is the sin of the soul to force young people into opinions - indoctrination is of the devil - but it is culpable neglect not to impel young people into experiences."

"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."

"I am referring to the published statistics on the rise of juvenile crime. For one age group the crime rate has in one year risen by 56 percent. For this state of affairs people blame the lack of parental control and leniency of the Law—the established educational system of the country is hardly ever held responsible. But some of us educators feel that we ought to say, nostra culpa, nostra maxima culpa, ours is the guilt, ours the greatest guilt."