Denmark, a Social Laboratory: Independent Farmers, Co-Operative Societies, Folk High Schools, Social Legislation: with 150 Photographs Illustrating Life and Conditions in Denmark

Denmark, a Social Laboratory: Independent Farmers, Co-Operative Societies, Folk High Schools, Social Legislation: with 150 Photographs Illustrating Life and Conditions in Denmark

Denmark, a Social Laboratory: Independent Farmers, Co-Operative Societies, Folk High Schools, Social Legislation: with 150 Photographs Illustrating Life and Conditions in Denmark

Denmark, a Social Laboratory: Independent Farmers, Co-Operative Societies, Folk High Schools, Social Legislation: with 150 Photographs Illustrating Life and Conditions in Denmark

Excerpt

Britain was the pioneer explorer of the uncharted maze of machine-industry, with a population uprooting itself from the soil and crowding into slums that in due course gave birth to vast amounts of unearned increment to be used as industrial capital. The population became a fortuitous concourse of atoms and even thinkers often forgot that a crowd is not a society and that provision for social life is a primary need of a social being. It is true that the feeling for society, being a basic feature, found alternative expression in philanthropic, sporting, frivolous and even disreputable associations, but the relation of all these to local social life as a whole was too limited. Moreover, while the concourse of atoms had a certain amount of liberty, there were severe limitations even in that respect because such a large proportion of the population was composed of wage-earners left for generations without even the fragment of economic insurance now available in the form of the dole.

It is interesting to compare with British schemes the efforts made by the Danes to meet modern conditions, to secure more liberty, to maintain society and to improve conditions of life. In Denmark about the middle of the nineteenth century the peasantry was still attached to the soil and there was not the same attraction of better wages in large and growing industries, but a peasantry is often inclined to cling to old ways heavily encrusted with ancient superstition, so it is a great achievement of the Danes that they have gone far towards liberating the peasant mind and yet maintained the life of the rural community.

Grundtvig and his helpers fortunately recognised the social nature of man and planned so that children might grow up as members of their community. They saw that education might go far astray if it aimed too much at pumping into the juvenile mind information that was supposed to be applied in adult life. The child was given time to keep in touch with the farm and, in the early stages of adolescence, he was held to devote himself to farm work. The time for further education, they thought, came later on, at the threshold of adult life. The folk-high-school was, in . . .

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