At the root of Hahn's concept of the effective school is a Platonic view
of education as a process based on self-confrontation and self-formation.
All Round Square schools share this view, however, different each school's organization and its cultural and linguistic milieu may be. (For the Round Square's membership criteria, see the accompanying text). The schools are far from identical. There are not only national differences but variety in ages served, genders enrolled (there are schools for boys, for girls, and coed schools), school types (boarding, day, or boarding/day) and school size. All are independently governed; in some countries public funding has a role in the support of the schools, while in others it does not.
5. Global Perspective
7. Specific Expectations
Heads of schools wishing to join Round Square will, on application, be sent
a copy of the Criteria and asked to state whether they believe their schools
match these criteria.
If, after discussion if necessary with the Executive Director, Heads are
confident that they satisfy the Criteria, the Executive Director and at least
one other member of the Board will visit the school to assess its suitability
for membership. The Executive Director may require a written submission to
be made in advance.
The delegation will always spend at least twenty-four hours in the school
and will meet, in addition to the Head, a member of the governing body, members
of staff and students.
The Executive Director will then produce a report for the Board with a recommendation
for action. If a decision is taken that a school shall not be admitted to
membership the school will be informed of the reason(s) for this and whether
it is encouraged to apply for membership at a later date.
Appraisals will be arranged between the Executive Director and the Head
of the school in question. They will be conducted by two Heads of member schools,
one of whom will normally be the member of Council responsible for the region
in which the school is situated.
The appraisers will make a report for Council which, together with any recommendations and expectations, shall be presented to the school.
One may have to stand back a bit to see the similarities underlying the
lives of students in institutions as outwardly different as Starehe of Kenya,
Rannoch in Scotland, Doon in India, or Athenian in California. Yet, when perspective
is gained, consistent priorities, principles and practices emerge:
* Students devote substantial time and energy to the service of others,
within the school and beyond it.
* Each school arranges outdoor and extra-curricular activities to challenge
and powerfully engage youngsters, individually and in groups, in ways that
promote personal development.
* Student leadership of and kindness toward others in the school's community
matter. Leadership roles held by students are substantial.
* Students are asked to look beyond gender, class, race, nationality and
culture to understand man's nature. International and group experiences and
language studies develop and deepen this commitment.
* Projects, programmes and curricula emphasize each student's destiny to
be a caretaker of human society and of the planet.
The philosophic vision developed in Round Square students through such programmes of active experience and endeavour tends to be both idealistic and informed by reality - as this quotation from the Doon School Weekly suggests:
"People do care about others, themselves and the entire planet.
How else does the human race survive? Money is not incentive enough. Love
"My time in India was spent learning about myself as well as others".
(A Rannoch student, 1991)
Schools organise several student exchanges per year. Most often these are
term-length exchanges of one student for another, worked out on a school-to-school
basis, with no tuition money changing hands and students travelling on tourist
visas. Exchanges also bring young alumni interested in a career in education
for "gap" year (pre-university, post-secondary) internships at member
schools as teaching aides.
It is a singular honour at any Round Square school to be sent on exchange.
The Round Square network makes it possible to match an exchanged student or teacher to a school, with minimal bureaucratic burden and little cost beyond travel. Because exchange is popular, each school is enriched by an annual inflow of visitors bringing the views and values of other nations and cultures, and by returning students whose perspective on society, education and the world has been deepened through personal experience.
"The real benefit of the project was that we were doing something
worthwhile to help the Hungarians establish the nature reserve. Our very presence
lifted their spirits. We were the first truly international group to stay
at the Boronka camp."
Each Round Square school presents an array of service opportunities to its
own students. The scope of activities is enormous, ranging from support for
the ill and elderly to child care to maintenance and rehabilitation of natural
areas to operation of life-saving or protective agencies. Thousands of hours
of such volunteer-service work are performed by Round Square students each
week. Students also take on emergency service when help is needed. Schools
train students in skills needed to be ready to help others in cases of emergency
From time to time, an opportunity to serve requires the efforts of a team
from several schools. Such "service projects" normally take place
during school holidays, and may be structured in either of two ways:
1. School based projects are organized, staffed and logistically supported
by a "base" school. In recent years such projects have taken place
in Britain (based on Box Hill and St. Anne's Schools), Eastern Germany (Louisenlund
School), Hungary (Salem), Switzerland (Aiglon), Turkey (Salem), Kenya (Starehe),
Canada (Bishop's College School), Thailand and Indonesia (Gordonstoun), Venezuela
(Rannoch), Niger (Birklehof) and Russia (Cobham Hall).
2. Larger projects may be directed by Round Square itself. The organization
has the leadership, expertise and funding needed to take on complex, logistically
difficult projects, such as school construction and disaster-relief projects
mounted since the early 1980's at locations in India and Kenya. Students at
Round Square schools raise money each year to supply construction and emergency-relief
All service projects are organized according to the "Round Square Ground Plan," policies and procedures which promote safety and effectiveness. Each is followed by an evaluation to ensure service will have an educative result for each student.
* Cooperative curricular projects are undertaken, such as concurrent biological
observations shared by several school.
* Most schools undertake outdoor expeditions during the year, and frequently
offer participation to qualified and interested students or teachers from
other Round Square schools. Examples of expeditions range from canoeing in
the Canadian north to mountaineering in the Indian Himalayas.
* Each year Round Square schools are asked to nominate candidates for the Kurt Hahn Prize, given to one or more students who have acted courageously to serve mankind or preserve life. This is Round Square's only award. It reflects Hahn's belief that great things - service of consequence, even heroism - are within the reach of prepared young persons, and that such deeds should be identified and celebrated.
These and other collaborative activities are explained and supported by
Echo, the Round Square newsletter, which is distributed to member schools.
Each year Round Square schools send teams of representatives to a five-day conference held at a member school. The teams, including students, the head of school, a member of the faculty/staff, and a trustee/governor, are expected to be at least fifty percent comprised of students. During a Conference the prior year's collaborative activities are reported and evaluated, and new projects are planned. Discussions examine topics of importance to schools and the world, especially as they relate to the special theme of each Conference. An address (usually from a prominent public figure) called The Hahn Lecture is a feature. The Annual General Meeting (participated in by heads and trustee/governors of member schools, but open to observation by all) is held at this time. Through activities, expeditions and events designed by the host school, visitors are introduced to the host school's country, culture and environment, and to a theme topic. Friendships and alliances form; prejudices based on national or cultural differences can be overcome. Much preparation and leadership for each annual conference is taken on by students at the host school.
Annual Conferences move from school to school and country to country. Hosting
a Conference is prized as a significant challenge to the skills and morale
of every member of the host school's community. Recent and future Conference
Smaller, briefer Conferences are held for younger students (usually 13 or 14 years old) within a single continent or geographic region. In each instance, a host school arranges a schedule of events and activities, and students and faculty members from each of the region's schools attend. These regional gatherings are reported in the Echo magazine, and at the following year's Conference.
Round Square membership has from the first enabled any two schools, or a group of schools within a region, or a still larger group from around the world, to take on tasks together and answer needs of collaboratively. Recent advances in technology and telecommunications offer new power to this long-standing commitment. Consequently, a major programme to augment cooperation between schools and regions using computer-based technology and the Internet was initiated in 1994. This new ""intake" within Round Square has the potential to enlarge both the scope and meaning our shared community brings to each student.
The Round Square network serves many uses, from schools working together to transfer a student whose family is relocating, to a multinational team of schools forming to perform emergency service (such as providing aid in 1990 to eastern European refugees, or relief for victims of the 1992 earthquake in India). Liaison between Round Square schools is supported by an annual face-to-face meeting between Heads of each region's member schools. Regional groups are encouraged to share ideas and activities with non-member schools. One such regional member/non-member group was started in the early 1980's by Round Square schools in the U.S. and Canada. This network sponsored several North American service projects and exchanges jointly developed by member and non-member schools. Through such regional actions a broader understanding of the Hahn vision can be achieved. The Patrons stand ready to facilitate these cooperative ventures.
A network of graduates of Round Square schools exists: URSA (the Union of Round Square Alumni). Its purposes are to support Round Square activities and projects; organize programmes and expeditions for those who want to continue collaborative and service activities after school; and to assist those who want to meet like-minded peers. To find the nearest URSA group inquirers should contact the Executive Director.