In May 2022 Bosei Sports High School became the setting scene for major discussions on - among other things - sustainable transitions, cooperation across national borders and visions for the global folk high school movement. A number of folk high school students from all over the world had gathered here for a large international seminar.
All the participants are part of the project People’s Future Lab, where the purpose is to contribute to movement towards a more sustainable society. In the project, 11 Danish folk high schools and 11 folk high schools from around the world are working together to develop and strengthen green initiatives.
The first gathering of the schools
The folk high schools in the project have held several online meetings but the seminar in May was the first time they met in person.
Among the participants were Trina Jackson from the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. According to her it was a great experience to meet each other and learn about the experiences and challenges the other folk high schools had in their pedagogical work.
The folk high school movement in Denmark is unique and a unicorn but the global folk high school movement is a laboratory.
Trina Jackson, Highlander Folk School
“The folk high school movement in Denmark is unique and a unicorn but the global folk high school movement is a laboratory. We see things, practice, do research and experiment in a way that more traditional schools might not be able to. We can do that without keeping our good experiences and mistakes to ourselves. We can use it to learn and to learn with each other iin a global context. We can change things for the better for all of us. We share information and what we learn,” she says.
Trina Jackson believes that the tools she gets from People’s Future Lab can help her students in their wish to create sustainable changes.
I feel that I'm bringing back a toolbox for my students – or a treasure that they can refine, tune and create something even better out of than what I present to them.
Trina Jackson, Highlander
“I feel that I'm bringing back a toolbox for my students – or a treasure that they can refine, tune and create something even better out of than what I present to them.”
"Amazing to experience how we share the idea of the folk high schools”
Malwina Gieldon from Poland who also participated, says that it has been very exciting to experience the country from which the folk high school movement originates and to learn about the situation of other folk high schools.
It is amazing to experience how we share the idea of the folk high school and the ideas about teaching at a folk high school. That experience has been very unifying.
Malwina Gieldon from Poland
“The most surprising thing has been that even though we come from different places we have very similar problems and challenges. And in a way our students are very much alike It is amazing to experience how we share the idea of the folk high school and the ideas about teaching at a folk high school. That experience has been very unifying,” she says.
Her folk high school works with self-sufficiency and she hopes the experiences from People’s Future Lab can help strengthen their work so that the CO2 footprint of the school and the local society can be further reduced.
We carry the same torch
Another participant at the seminar was Johan Lövgren who is a researcher at University of South-Eastern Norway. He follows and documents the People’s Future Lab project.
According to him the pedagogical insight that emerges from People’s Future Lab is so rich that it is difficult to emphasize anything specific.
“But I think that the primary thing the movement does is to revitalize the concept we already have. It opens for a reconceptualization of the pedagogy of the folk high schools and the Grundvigian idea which has supported us through 177 years,” he says and adds that the next step will be to develop new concepts.
The best part of the seminar has, according to him, been meeting the other partner folk high schools from all over the world and getting both mirrored and challenged.
“Meeting people who carry the same torch as I do and bring different perspectives to the table gives me a great energy and is at the same time challenging and productive for us as folk high schools,” he says.
The most important thing is that we are not being overwhelmed by the challenges but that we find multiple and productive ways to inspire people for action.
Lisbeth Trinskjær, chairwoman FFD
The chairwoman of the Association of Folk High Schools in Denmark, Lisbeth Trinskjær, is pleased with the collaboration across the boarders.
“The most important challenges today are both complex and global. The most important thing is that we are not being overwhelmed by the challenges but that we find multiple and productive ways to inspire people for action. That is exactly why the contribution of the folk high schools is enriched by the different partners from all over the world who take part in People’s Future Lab. Nobody can lift that complex task alone but together we can make a difference. We both must and will.”