7 May, 2021


The Seven Laws of Salem

Kurt Hahn is possibly not a name known to many in our community but so much of what he proposed as an educator permeates through Scotch Oakburn’s learning programs.

Next week half of the Year 10 students will put themselves out of their comfort zones in unknown workplaces and the other half will be scattered across Tasmania experiencing a range of adventures, including white-water rafting, mountain biking, bushwalking and rock-climbing. It is therefore appropriate to celebrate the contribution Kurt Hahn has had in the development of modern experiential education.

Hahn was a key figure in the development of adventure education, founder of Salem Schools in Germany (1920), Gordonstoun School in Scotland (1934), Outward Bound (1941), the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme (1954-56), the Atlantic Colleges (1957) and Round Square (1966).

Kurt Hahn believed that education must contribute to the ’rounded’ character of a student. This heavily influenced the evolution of the Round Square IDEALS and Discoveries which in turn have impacted the development of Scotch Oakburn’s own Learner Attributes.

Hahn concluded that there was a need to educate so that people would speak of their convictions. In 1930 he set out the Seven Laws of Salem in a document:

1. Give the children opportunities for self-discovery.

2. Make the children meet with triumph and defeat.

3. Give the children the opportunity of self-effacement in the common cause.

4. Provide periods of silence.

5. Train the imagination.

6. Make games important but not predominant.

7. Free the sons of the wealthy and powerful from the enervating sense of privilege.

Clearly ahead of his time, Hahn’s approach emphasized character-building and he downplayed the development of intellectual ability to some extent. He believed that students should be able to work (academically) more at their own pace.

We hope that all our Year 10s have an experience next week that challenges them and that when they reflect on the activities of their week, they are able to identify with some of the elements of The Seven Laws of Salem.

Remember Kurt Hahn’s famous quote –

“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”

Stuart Walls
Head of Senior School

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