N.F.S. Grundtvig is considered to be the father of Danish folk schools. His radical ideas were the cornerstone upon which this educational reform was based. He was a Danish minister, a theologian, a poet, a philosopher, a historian, a hymn writer, a social critic, and most relevantly, an educator. His educational vision was for a unique school that would serve Danish people of all social standings, especially the farmers. He originally called it "folkelig hojskole" (loosely interpreted as "a school that would be "of and for the people"") (Borish, 1991, p. 17). His idea was to create an educational system that would give dignity to each person who attended. He wanted to awaken in each person a pride in Danish culture, and a love of learning that would continue for the person's entire life. One of Grundtvig's most well known poems, Enlightenment (translated by Borish), illustrates his view of learning:
Is the light of the spirit only something for the learned to spell with? No! Heaven has bequeathed more good things, and the light is the gift of heaven. The sun rises with the farmer, and not with those who possess learning. It illuminates, from top til toe, the one who is really on the go.
Grundtvig was born in 1783, in a small village about 50 miles outside of Copenhagen, Denmark. His father was a clergyman, and Grundtvig was educated and trained to become one himself. After graduating from the University of Copenhagen in 1803 he worked as a tutor and as a historian f..