BRIDGETOWN, N.S. - When Warden Timothy Habinski described Annapolis County to the folks at Gordonstoun School in Duffus, Elgin, Morayshire in northern Scotland, they seemed impressed.
But so too was Habinski impressed with Gordonstoun, the famous international school founded by Dr. Kurt Hahn, the man who also started the Outward Bound program and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. He was also the man jailed by Adolph Hitler in 1933 and rescued by British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.
When Gordonstoun offered a franchise of the school to developer Edward Farren, who wanted to build an international school in Annapolis County, Habinski was elated. Not just for the economic boon it would mean, but because the ethos of the school and the ethos of Annapolis County are so similar.
“If there’s a point I really want people to know about the school, and about why this project, it’s this: when we went to Gordonstoun I presented specifically on the values and culture of Annapolis County. I wanted them to know what kind of a county it was,” said Habinski.
Gordonstoun had been approached for franchises on a number of occasions in the past and had always turned the opportunity down, he said.
“This time they approached Ed. They approached the developer and asked if he would consider it,” Habinski said. “It was after that conversation, and they saw an absolute sympathy between their values and priorities as an organization – their ethical values – and what we were talking about as being absolutely the character of Annapolis County. That it’s predicated on this idea of compassion, on a notion of volunteerism, that that’s really what informs so many of the decisions that are made here. They found that intensely attractive. Gordonstoun reflects our values. That’s partly why we think it’s such a good fit.”
Gordonstoun Nova Scotia, a $62-million not-for-profit international school to be built in Annapolis County will educate youth aged 16 to 19 using the Gordonstoun brand and ethos. Dr. Hahn’s educational philosophy is detailed in Farren’s business plan.
“Kurt Hahn’s views on world affairs and the necessity of peace and new approaches to interactions between nations through education were shaped by his experiences in the German Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his work as Private Secretary to Prince Max von Baden, last Imperial Chancellor of Germany,” the business plan reads.
“Kurt Hahn believed the principal task of education is to ensure the survival of five fundamental qualities needed to meet generational challenges in respect to personal growth and international cooperation leading to peace and development among nations,” the plan said.
Specifically, those qualities are: an enterprising curiosity within individuals, an undefeatable spirit in meeting challenges, tenacity in the pursuit of goals, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, understanding and compassion for others.
“Their focus right now is on whole-person education,” said Habinski. “They’re bringing in students from around the world. They’re teaching them to be humble, to care about their communities, and to value their own achievement in terms of what they’re able to give. That’s the educational foundation of what they do, and that suits us right down to the ground.”
Besides the mutual way of thinking, Gordonstoun Scotland and Gordonstoun Nova Scotia’s home in New Scotland have something else in common.
Gordonstoun Scotland was the home of Sir Robert Gordon who was made Scotland’s Premier Baronet of Nova Scotia on May 28, 1625 and granted 16,000 acres on the coast of Nova Scotia which were erected into a barony.
“Sir Robert had arranged the Awards of this Honour in order to finance the development of the Colony that is now the Province of Nova Scotia,” Farren’s plan notes. “The coat of arms of the Baronetcy of Nova Scotia is situated on the west gable of Gordonstoun House, now the administrative building of Gordonstoun and will be replicated in the administration building of Gordonstoun Nova Scotia that is to be named Sir Robert Gordon Hall.”