According to Kurt Hahn, one of the founding fathers of the world recognised Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, “the aim of education is to impel people into value forming experiences … to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit … and above all, compassion … it is culpable neglect not to impel young people into experiences.”
The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme is very much centred around new experiences. Hahn undoubtedly understood the intrinsic benefits of such a programme to the growing physical, emotional and spiritual development of young people.
He recognised the value of young people reaching beyond their comfort zone and seeking new experiences that nurture their passions and potential. To outsiders, the benefits of the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme may appear intangible or nebulous, yet to those who work every day with young people engaged in this Award, the value is very real and, over time, plain to see.
The boys and young men at Trinity Grammar School embrace new experiences and challenges through our extensive co-curricular programme. One of the most popular co-curricular activities is the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
Our students have the opportunity to join this internationally recognised programme, consisting of three levels: Bronze (for those aged 14 or over), Silver (for those aged 15 or over) and Gold (for those aged 16 or over). In each level, participants engage in an individually selected skill, service project and physical recreation component, as well as undertake two “Adventurous Journeys” which, at Trinity, involve bushwalking expeditions. The inbuilt balance in the Award design matches the School’s traditional ethos of “Mind, Body and Spirit”.
Over the past few decades, society has rightly built higher walls around our young people to maintain safety in their various pursuits and activities. We have ensured that risk is mitigated and limited the potential for physical or emotional harm. Despite these good intentions, the regulation of some co-curricular activities involving young people, especially young men, has sometimes resulted in a diminished sense of adventure and challenge.
The Duke of Edinburgh programme at Trinity channels our boys’ need for physical and emotional challenge, their yearning for adventure and their drive to constantly ‘set the bar higher’. It is a safe and well supervised programme that essentially places our boys in charge of their own destiny, with the opportunity to make decisions about the particular skill, service and physical recreation activity they will pursue. There is wide recognition of the value of the programme in encouraging initiative, building resilience and enhancing a sense of service to the community.
Recent studies confirm the value of the boys’ involvement in this Scheme. They include, but are not limited to:
- improved educational performance and overall competency
- an improved sense wellbeing and confidence
- more active participation in social ventures
- greater respect for the environment
- increased ability in conflict resolution.
The international scope of the Award is also commensurate with the global focus that Trinity has adopted for several years, especially with the progressive integration of the International Baccalaureate and its philosophy into our educational culture.
It is well documented that people, especially young men, are spending significantly less time outdoors than previous generations, resulting in increases in obesity, ADHD, depression, vitamin deficiencies and behavioural problems. Our regular expeditions enable our boys to connect or reconnect with the natural environment, which, together with the associated physical exercise, is often therapeutic and educative. An increased sense of responsibility and empathy towards others often emerges from the close bonds that are forged during these expeditions.
It is no exaggeration to claim that the Duke of Edinburgh Award is life changing for many boys at Trinity. It inspires our boys to exceed their personal expectations and this, as Kurt Hahn suggests, is surely one of the key aims of education.
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