Although some shared characteristics may be found among folk high schools in the Nordic countries - such as the role as a pedagogical alternative to the public-school system, the frequency of boarding schools and the informal relations between teacher and student - they have originated and developed differently. Based on previous research, this introduction points out such national differences related to both philosophical foundations and geopolitical factors. Before introducing the articles for the thematic issue, a table is presented which depicts the number of folk high schools, offered credits and types of courses in each country.
This article examines the various conceptions of Bildung currently found within Danish folk high schools, based on their own descriptions of their aim and pedagogical praxis. Departing from an understanding of the folk high school pedagogy as a pedagogy of Bildung that is not based in one specific ideal or theoretical notion of Bildung, but rather is closely connected to pedagogical praxis, different approaches to the folk high schools’ aim of Bildung are given. Based on a phenomenographic-inspired examination, the article presents and discusses different categories of Bildung in play amongst Danish folk high schools, in order to contribute to a framework within which the work and praxis of the folk high schools can be discussed pedagogically.
This article focuses on Swedish folk high schools’ participants with disabilities, and their learning environment within adult education. Facilitating factors are presented and discussed, as well as developmental factors regarding the adjustment of the learning environment. The basis for this empirical study is data from Statistics Sweden and a self-designed online questionnaire with respondents representing the folk high schools (N=212). Theoretical reference is given to concepts such as adult education and inclusive education. The results show there are an increased number of participants with disabilities in Swedish folk high schools. Furthermore, the study emphasizes the meaning of pedagogics with a personalized, individualized approach, and highlights a need for further education of adult educators about disability. The conclusion is that a stronger inclusive-education perspective with focus on learners’ diversity reflects only one side of practice, as this practice is also challenged by welfare system-steered processes that may conflict with an ideal of adult education as empowerment.
The aim of this article is to contribute to the understanding of folk high school teachers’ professional development. Forty-three students, during the last part of their folk high school teacher education, video-recorded and viewed their own teaching sessions. Two years later, eight of them were chosen to do the same again, now as working teachers. The collected data from first occasion was in the form of written reflection documents; the second time it was interview transcripts. Ideas from pragmatism and symbolic interactionism were used when analysing the data. The findings showed that the video tool contributed to the teachers’ professional development, by offering them an image of themselves acting in the classroom. This supported a reflective habit, and gave them more confidence. It helped them to develop on their own terms, in relation to the local context, and to ideas associated with Nordic popular education.
The purpose of this article is to contribute to the understanding of enactments of citizenship through participation in a study circle in philosophy. Citizenship is viewed as comprising acting and being in-and-through the study circle. This links citizenship to social contexts, actions and education. The study was conducted as an ethnographic field study over eight months. In total nine people, men and women of different ages, gathered once a month. The participants shared an ambition to form an open group for all interested in philosophy. Here, the ideals of freedom and voluntary participation led to both inclusion and exclusion.