What is a folk high school?

A folk high school is a non-formal residential school offering learning opportunities in almost any subject. Most students are between 18 and 24 years old and the length of a typical stay is 4 months. It is a boarding school, so you sleep, eat, study and spend your spare time at the school. There are no academic requirements for admittance, and there are no exams - but you will get a diploma as a proof of your attendance.

Student presentation of a folk high school

International students tell about their experiences with living and learning at different Danish folk high schools:

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What is non-formal adult education?

The concept of "non-formal adult education" is associated with N.F.S. Grundtvig, a Danish philosopher, poet, educational thinker and clergyman, (born in 1783 - died in 1872), and his thoughts concerning free educational opportunities. The concept arose in the 19th century and is one of the cornerstones of the Danish educational system.

The Danish Ministry of Children and Education offer an in-depth explanation of non-formal adult education.

For more information read the English translation of the official Act on Folk High Schools

Teaching at a folk high school

Teaching at folk high schools is characterised by professionalism and dedication. Classes are based on dialogue and mutual learning between teachers and students. The main focus is to discover and strengthen the unique skills of each student in a challenging yet supportive social atmosphere.

Get our booklet about the Danish folk high schools in English.

Daily life at the schools

During your stay at a folk high school, you live, eat, study, party and clean together with the other students. Everybody has the same duties and the same rights – regardless of sex, social range, religion, nationality, ethnicity etc.

As the students often represent a wide range of backgrounds and live closely together in both good times and hard times, everybody has to do their best to get the most out of the day as a whole.

At a folk high school you live together and experience each other in a number of different situations. Many folk high schools offer both shared and single rooms. You usually have joint meetings and smaller group meetings every week.

Language

The main language at most of the folk high schools in Denmark is Danish - but many of the schools have taken steps to receive foreign students.

At some of the schools they use translation equipment, some have courses especially for international students, some do courses in Danish language for foreigners while others try to implement both English and Danish in both teaching and everyday life.

Before you choose a school it is important to clarify your own needs and talents and what you  expect from your stay. Contact the schools you are considering to learn more about their specific language politics.

Teachers and students

Respect, equality, cooperation, dialogue and tolerance are some of the keywords in making daily life at the folk high schools work. This is not only the case among the students. One of the core-ideas of the folk high schools is equality and mutual learning between teachers and students. The classes are characterised by the free word, dialogue and an open curriculum which can be changed during the course.

Singing

Singing together is deeply rooted in the culture at the folk high schools. It is a tradition reaching back to the birth of this type of school. The founder, Grundtvig, wrote 1,585 psalms himself. You usually sing every morning - and whenever there is an occassion.

The folk high schools have their own songbook. The songbook contains both some of the psalms written by Grundtvig and many other folk songs. A new edition of the songbook was published in 2006 and now contains 572 songs - both old and new, Danish, English and a few in German and Swedish as well as pop and rock songs and psalms.

Living and studying together

At a folk high school you live together and experience each other in  many different social situations. During your stay at a folk high school, you live, eat, study, party and clean together with the other students. Everybody has the same duties and the same rights - no matter sex, social status, religion, nationality, ethnicity etc. As the students often represent a wide range of backgrounds and you live closely together in both good times and hard, everybody has to do their best to get the most out of the day for the school as a whole.

Respect, equality, cooperation, dialogue and tolerance are some of the keywords in making daily life at the folk high schools work. And this is not only the case amongst the students. One of the core ideas of the folk high schools is equality and mutual learning between teachers and students. The classes are characterized by the free word, dialogue and an open curriculum which can be changed during the course.

Get the pamphlet

The pamphlet gives a short introduction to what a folk high school is.

Get the pamphlet

Read about the long-term courses

Get the pamphlet

Read about the free danish school tradition

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