Among the various kinds of schools in Denmark, a school type known as a ‘Free School’ has been getting a lot of attention from people. The Free School, an unique form of the education, originated in Denmark with ideological contributions by theologians and linguists N.F.S. Grundtvig and Christen Kold. They said people should be taught the knowledge of lives, and that education should not be limited to childhood, but instead should last for lives. Their thoughts were conveyed to Danish citizens, leading to the establishment of today’s various ‘Folkehøjskoles’, starting with the first ‘Folkehøjskole’ in Rødding on November 7, 1844.
There are Free Schools that cater to many age groups, but among the forms of schooling, a school that students over 18 and adults can go to is the ‘Folkehøjskole’. This school exists between a high school and university, offering a ‘general broadening education’. This education means fully nurturing all the qualities that human beings possess.
Students in this type of school are free to choose the subjects and classes they want to take. Also, there is no textbook and no test in the class. The class is not organized by the teacher alone, but is instead a collaborative effort with the students at times conducting the class and also contributing to the rules of the class. Various things happen among the students, such as participating in a choir, sports, traveling, romance, and even an overnight discussion in a free atmosphere. Also, the teachers and students share their daily lives while living together in a dormitory. In other words, within this school, many teachers and students gather to form a small society and experience various things, and students lead self-reliant and democratic lives.
In Korea, there is a similar newly introduced system called the ‘free semester system’. This system has been introduced to avoid having students remain at their desks studying, but instead to help them experience as much as possible and find their own interests and aptitudes. During this free semester system, students do not take tests, but take the time to explore their careers. However, it is more limited in scope for students than the Free schools’ scope in Denmark because it is mainly implemented in middle schools and only some high schools.
The Seowon News interviewed a student A, who had been educated at the ‘Folkehøjskole’. After asking her what was good about being educated in the ‘Folkehøjskole’, she answered, “It was good to be free to challenge myself in unfamiliar areas that are hard to do in Korea, as well as to do what I wanted without being concerned about my grades”.
The Seowon News also asked what she felt about Korean education compared with her experiences there. She said, “In Korean schools, Korean students are under a lot of pressures and stresses because of their grades. Also, they only try to deal with fields that they can get good grades in rather than with areas of their interests. So, it is a pity that Korean students do not try new and diverse things”.
There is a Free school in Korea named ‘Ggum-tl-lee Life School’. In Korea, there are some efforts to help students to find their careers. However, it is still not enough. The Seowon News hopes that Korean students will try to find their interests by experiencing various fields, and that many schools like the Denmark’s ‘Folkehøjskole’ become more established.