The Danish Secret

What shaped the Nordic countries

20 minutes by car from downtown Copenhagen, Denmark, a local farm displays their daily fresh strawberries, potatoes, and honey at an unattended roadside stand. Using your phone, you pay for what you take and, so far, the farmer has never had anything stolen.


Poor Denmark in the 1800s

Schools to the rescue

Enter: The border conflict, a constitution, and bildung

So, what is bildung in the first place?

Painting: Anna-Amalia of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach
Painting: Anna-Amalia of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach
Duchess Anna-Amalia of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach
Friedrich Schiller
Among the readers of Schiller’s letters were the sister of Frederik VI and Count Ernst Schimmelmann, member of the school commission, minister of finance and the richest man in Denmark. The picture shows the palace that was the Schimmelmann residence in Copenhagen in the decades around 1800; the most prominent members of Danish society would have gathered here, and for entertainment, they would read aloud, among other things, the letters from Friedrich Schiller.
Today, the mansion is headquarter of the Danish Odd Fellows and hence named The Odd Fellow Palace.

Romanticism and the Danish Spirit

Democratizing bildung and making it folk-bildung

Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig, 1820
Rødding Folk High School / Rødding Højskole, which opened in 1844.

Danishness and the War — 1848–1851

A collective as well as individual mind-shift

Mathilde Fibiger, around 1850

Folk-bildung, the secret

Christen Kold, 1850
The farm in Ryslinge that Kold bought in 1851, fixed up, and turned into his first folk high school.

That other fateful year, 1864, that transformed Denmark

The wider landscape and consequences of folk-bildung

An open-minded sense of peoplehood

Folk-bildung 2.0

Georg Brandes, 1880s
Poul Henningsen, 1930ish

The workers and the unions

The Danish Secret

Famous 1949 Cultural Radical chair by Danish designer Hans Wegner, here 1960

Folk-bildung 3.0

Economist, futurist, author, full member of the Club of Rome. Works at Next Scandinavia, Nordic Bildung & European Bildung Network.

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