WHAT IS A FOLKBILDNING COLLEGE?

Posted 8/17/2016

Written by John Veitch- jlwveitch@yahoo.co.uk

The Folbildning College concept has its basis in the ideas developed in a system of education based on the principles of social justice and change. These concepts were developed, primarily, in Denmark through the ideas of Nikolaj Grundtvig. They spread throughout Europe and North America creating rather different systems in different countries. In Scandinavia and Germany they were called Folkhögskolor; in the UK, the USA and Canada they were called Community Colleges even though the aims and objectives were different in different countries.

All these Colleges had a common ground in that they were involved with the empowerment of threatened and disadvantaged peoples within their own countries. Similarly, they were involved with social, political and economic changes within their own special socio-political environments. Adaptation to change was taught by using the process of education to enlighten people as to their democratic rights and obligations in the new societies that were emerging.

With the introduction of industrialism, democratisation, religious freedom, humanism, social empowerment and the need to create a new way forward in a changing world, Folkbildning Colleges became the force by which these processes were incorporated within society. Education for good citizenship became the byword.

The idea was that, through the process of the free exchange of ideas, to develop the students so that they were able to think for themselves, to be able to visualise and concretise the processes of oppression, which are present in every society no matter how large or small, in such a way so as to find, through the process of life long learning, new ways of creating a just and equitable society based on the needs of the future but using the lessons of the past.

It was essential that these Colleges were not bound by the constraints of previous systems of education. This freedom from central control and freedom of curricular development led to a system of state financed alternative education, where new methods of teaching and training were put into practise based on new ways of creating social change for the advantage of the disadvantaged groups within society. These freedoms were the very basis of the system, for without them change would not have occurred! One of the interesting results was that the state system of education also changed, following the lead taken by Folkbildning Colleges.

In any society, where the needs of the majority have been ignored, the present educational system, despite all its financial resources, is not fulfilling the objectives of new democratic social development within the system or giving people the knowledge of their democratic rights and obligations or creating the necessary social, political and economic development. Consequently the Folkbildning College system should be introduced to rectify this situation.

Remember the object of education and training is an active and dynamic process. Where the knowledge obtained is there to be used in a constructive developmental process both for the individual and society. The joy of learning is of the greatest importance, as well as the positive use of skills, training and knowledge for national development.

Another important fact is that the Folkbildning College system has grown up from the needs of the community rather than from the needs of the system. This implies that the Folkbildning College spreads through a grass roots process of flexible development meeting the demands of society. An anathema to this development is rigid control from without.

Cultural, artistic and handicraft development create, through the Folkbildning College, a place where the old interacts with the new and the birth of new ideas and methods combine to create a renaissance for traditional crafts bring them into the new world but not losing their identity. Modernism must be in line with traditional values and both must change to serve the people living in an ever changing society. The same situation applies on the side of technological, social and scientific development as well as with moral and ethical development.

In a developing world it is important to have an identity, a history and a culture before venturing from the confines of the micro society into the larger, and for many, frightening world outside. Armed with an understanding of who you are it is much easier to understand and participate in the process of development and to relate that development to the needs of the people. History is always written by those who won but must always be rewritten to reflect truth and not lies, for without truth the identity of the people is lost and they know not who they are.

Folkbildning College’s do not recognise a hierarchical system of education where higher levels of knowledge must only be taught within higher institutions of learning. For the Folkbildning College the opposite is true where knowledge and training are related to the needs of the individual and the group irrespective of the definitions of an educational system where progression through the system is the main aim. Goal defined education and lifelong learning are a necessity within the Folkbildning College as well as economic development within the community fulfilling the needs of that community. These are watchword of the Folkbildning College.

Normally the entrance of a student into the Folkbildning College is not based on which certificates that individual has but rather on a judgement of whether that individual will succeed at the level on which he/she is entering. It is important to achieve success and avoid failure for the student, as well as individualising the educational process.

Finally no system of education can be taken from one country and exported to another without that system being adapted to the needs of the country it is being imported into. The Folkbildning College in any country should not be the same as the Folkbildning Colleges in other parts of the world. It should have its own character, be its own master and develop to meet the specific requirements in any specific country. Even so, the abovementioned principles must form the basis of Folkbildning College development if it is to have a chance of succeeding in empowering the disempowered, in enlightening those who walk in darkness, in fulfilling the needs of the community and creating a system of community education which any country may call its own.

The Folkbildning College, is the tool, by which, education is used as a means of internal development from within the system rather than being imposed from without. Its object is the development of a truly democratic society in which every individual is able to participate fully through the process of enlightenment.
Written by John Veitch - jlwveitch@yahoo.co.uk