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folk high school

type of residential school for adults that is standard in Scandinavian countries and has also been adopted elsewhere in Europe. The concept of the folk high school was originated in Denmark by the theologian N.F.S. Grundtvig as a means of providing the common people with a knowledge of their history, religion, and cultural heritage. The model school for the movement was established by the young educator Kristen Kold in 1851 and was soon extensively imitated. Following Denmark's military defeat by Prussia in 1864, these folk high schools served as a powerful instrument of national regeneration. There are no entrance qualifications or leaving examinations; attendance is completely voluntary. The atmosphere is homelike. Students and teachers live, work, and play together. The singing of hymns and folksongs is characteristic. Subjects of general interest in literature and social science predominate. Most students are young adults, originally rural workers, but now urban as well. The schools are private but receive state subsidies, and many folk high schools attract an international body of students.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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