Tradition reigns at prepratory schools

Modernised post-primary boarding schools in Denmark draw on their traditional 'Grundtvig-Koldsk' foundation to attract new students

Targeting specific groups of young people in their transition period between primary and secondary schools has seen 'Efterskoler', preparatory boarding schools, enjoying huge success, mainly because they have uniquely tailored curricula.

This year, over 25,000 students are expected to start at one of the country's 257 'efterskoler', independent residential schools for students between 14 and 18 years old.

There has been a boom in the number of these schools, which now offer everything from gymnastics, sailing, chess and carpentry, reported daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Despite the new course offerings, many of the schools have taken inspiration from the The Grundtvig-Koldske philosophy that originated from bard, poet, educational thinker, politician and clergyman N.F.S. Grundtvig, who along with Kristen Kold, was the founder and visionary genius of the folk high school, or 'folkehøjskole', movement.

While in 1970, only one out of ten schools described itself as a follower of the Grundtvig-Koldske philosophy, today one out of three schools considers itself a follower.

'Regular Grundtvig-Koldske schools haven't gone backwards, it's just that their growth has taken new direction,' said Anna Kolind, chairperson of the national association of boarding schools. 'All the schools have one thing in common: we have a duty to both togetherness and education, and both are equally valuable. Without the Grundtvig way of thinking, these new schools wouldn't exist.'

The new generation that has been called extremely individualistic, many youths have chosen this existence of curfews, shared rooms and mealtimes and strict mobile phone rules simply because of the exciting activities offered.

The boarding schools are traditionally located in small-town or farming areas, and the pastoral nature of the schools seems primarily to attract those from that background. Whereas only seven percent of efterskole students come from Copenhagen, 71 percent come from Jutland.

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