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2021, nr. 2

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Antal sider: 113


2021, nr. 2

Tema: You’re Welcome! An Introduction to the Danish Folkeskole

Velkommen! Willkommen! Bienvenida! ようこそ! Добро пожаловать! كب الهأ! Witamy!

Teachers and lecturers, students and lead- ers in international schools and teacher education settings in Denmark; all of you with an interest in the Danish school sys- tem and pedagogical practice (yet) unable to read relevant literature in Danish: This thematic issue of Unge Pædagoger is especially for you.

In this issue, you will find 10 Danish ar- ticles translated into English. The aim is to provide an overview of the Danish public school (referred to as Folkeskole in Den- mark and in the articles in this issue). The articles present different aspects, traditi- ons, key theoretical concepts and trends within Danish school policy and pedago- gical development in a range of Folkesko- len’s setting, ranging from kindergarten to 10th-grade. Common to all the articles is their authors’ passion for Folkeskolen and proven pedagogic practice, their ability to communicate their areas of interest and the fact that all 10 articles have been published (in Danish) in previous issues of the Unge Pædagoger Journal.

By collecting these articles and providing them in an English translation, this spe- cial issue provides non-Danish speaking individuals with the opportunity to engage with Folkeskolen and Danish pedagogic practices. The process of choosing articles for this thematic issue was not an easy task. Already, we are considering the possibility of publishing a continuing is- sue.

As all systems of larger social practice develop, it constructs itself as a complex body of culture, traditions, concepts and practices. These are not always accessible or easily translatable to non-Danish spea- kers, as it comes with a historical back- bone of norms, attitudes and tacit agreed- upon ways of doing and thinking. The 10 articles collected here specifically address some of these norms and concepts, falling into one of two themes: the classics and trends. The classics represent key thinkers and central ideas commonly referred to in the Danish pedagogic context. They pro- vide insight into key concepts important to understanding Folkeskolen and can help you to better understand Danish pedagogy. The articles in the trends theme provide insights into more current movements in both policy and pedagogy currently affecting the Danish school system.

Before introducing each of the included articles, a brief introduction to the Danish Folkeskole and some of the key terms (which have proven impossible to trans- late) is necessary.

The Danish Folkeskole

In this issue, the Danish term “Folkeskole’’ remains rather than attempting to translate to what in Anglo-Saxon terms is encompas- sing both primary and lower secondary school systems. Folkeskolen represents the Danish public school system, encompas- sing institutionalised education from the first year of school in year 0 (the Danish Kindergarten class) where children typically start the year they turn six years old, to the requisite 9th (including also the optional 10th) grade where the youths are now 15-16 years old, respectively.

The Danish Folkeskole is 200 years old and was initially influenced by German educational philosophy as well as Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig and Christen Kold’s ideas about schooling emphasising a focus on pupils’ democratic self-de- velopment, which continues to influence the Danish Folkeskole today. A distinctive characteristic of the Danish Folkeskole and its focus on pupils’ self-development can be seen in the cohesiveness of the class: the same group of children remai- ning together throughout their 10 years at school. Instead of meeting new teachers each year, the teachers traditionally pro- gress along with the class year after year, specialising in subjects. For many years, a teacher would start with grade 1 and continue teaching his or her subject areas all the way until the pupils’ graduation. While not usually the case anymore, tea- chers do usually progress along with their class from grade one to grade four or five at which point a new team of teachers take over and progress with the students until they graduate. This is a contrast to many school systems around the world where schooling is divided between primary and secondary school with their respec- tive norms and traditions. Specialising teachers into age groups reflects some of the more recent pedagogical and political national and international trends also in- fluencing the Danish Folkeskole.

As with any national school system, it con- sists of cultures and structures impossible to grasp in brief. The overview of key con- cepts and current developments collected here, however, provide a starting point.


The word Didaktik stems from the Greek term ‘didaktike’ (techne), which means the art of teaching. It derives from ’didaskein meaning to ’learn, to teach’ (Winther-Jen- sen, 2020). In the Danish Folkeskole as well as in teacher education, this concept plays a key role. Didaktik encompasses the teacher’s practice of planning, implementing and eva- luating instructional activities all within a framework of reflecting on both her own teaching and the pupil’s learning. What that means in terms of practical and theoretical translation, however, has been up for debate in Denmark for the recent 60 years.

From the 1960s and onwards Danish Di- daktik has been strongly influenced by the German educational thinker and Bildung- theorist, Wolfgang Klafki (see Bildung below). From this position, the purpose of education and upbringing is to guide the child (or minor) through a process of both personal and cultural maturation towards a state of competence. It rests in philoso- phical pedagogy that views didaktik as concerning the questions of what is to be taught and why (Nielsen, 1994).

The most well-known critics of this position are the German Didaktiker’s Werner Jank and Hilbert Meyer, who point out

two key concerns. Firstly, they argue that questions of methodology, the “How”- question should be a part of the didactical scope and not be seen as separate from questions of What and Why. Instead, they formulate a broader scope and definition of didaktik as “The theory and practice of teaching and learning” (Jank & Meyer, 2010: 17, our translation). Secondly, they argue that sound didactical practice can- not only rely on philosophical normative inquiry but must be empirically informed. Thus, didactical practice informs research and vice versa.

The two positions highlighted here are not in direct opposition but can be viewed as foregrounding certain questions and backgrounding others, as becomes ap- parent in the articles collected throughout this issue.

Dannelse (or Bildung)

The German notion of Bildung has no di- rectly correlating term in English. The Rus- sian образование (Obrasowanije) the Italian creazione or educazione, formacao in por- tuguese and bildning in Swedish all appro- ximate the notion more or less. In French it can be referred to as culture générale while in English it is often translated to a liberal education or self-formation (Johansen, 2002: 5). Often, however, it remains in the German original, untranslated, as attempts to do so often reveal implicit cultural biases. In Danish, Dannelse closely correlates with Bildung, comprising the same notions of construction, shaping, forming and, in ge- neral, moving towards a state of competence and independence. The main pedagogical rationale behind Dannelse is that being hu- man is not something that you are, but something you become.

Like Bildung, Dannelse is about under- standing oneself in relation to the surrounding world. This understanding is in fact so commonly accepted, that it ap- pears in the first paragraph of the Danish Folkeskole Act (Børne- og Undervisnings- ministeriet, 2020), which states that the Danish Folkeskole should contribute to the pupils’ understanding of “human in-teraction with nature and promotes the individual pupil’s versatile development ” (§1, 1), “create a framework for experience, immersion and desire for action, so that pupils develop cognition and imagination and gain confidence in their own opportu- nities and background for taking positions and acting.“ (§1, 2) and “prepare pupils for participation, co-responsibility, rights and duties in a society with freedom and de- mocracy” (§1, 3). In this way, pupils’ Dan- nelse, and the Danish Folkeskole’s role in their Dannelse, is central to children in Denmark growing into competent citi- zens, participating in and shaping the de- mocratic society in which they live.

While the word Dannelse is a central concept in the Danish Folkeskole, and its use is common in both practice and appears in formal policy documents, how to ope- rationalise the term is often challenging and leads to central pedagogical discus- sions. Throughout this issue of Unge Pædagoger, different views on Dannelse and how to address it are raised, either directly or indirectly.

Introductory Article

The first article in this issue, titled Social change, political interests, and educational ideas: The Danish Folkeskole 1960 – 2010, by Kathrine Degn, Sidse Hølvig Mikkelsen & Hans Dorf elaborates on how policy and pedagogy in the Danish Folkeskole have developed in the last 50 years, and provides an introduction to the context of the Danish Folkeskole. The authors make the point that: “The school is bound to mirror the relationship between social development, political interests, and educational beliefs. Views of how the school ought to contribute to the qualification and socialization of future citizens are permanently in flux, however, and school politics can be visualized as an arena, in which diver- gent educational views and interests clash and educational conflicts are fought out” (This issue, p. OBS – sidetal kendes først når første opsætning er lavet!). This is ela- borated on in detail throughout the article, and gives the reader a thorough overview of the political and pedagogical historical context for the Danish Folkeskole.


Following the introductory article, we present a selected few of what we term classics. They present central ideas, perspectives and practices within the Danish Folkeskole.

In Didaktik and Citizenship, by Alexander Von Oettingen, he writes: “An array of different ethical, political, religious and economical challenges of society necessitates an increased focus on reflective teaching and learning processes in the school, which calls for explicit ‘citizenship teaching” (this issue, p. OBS). The article elaborates on this problem, presenting and arguing for three principles of a Citizenship Didaktik.

In the article Wolfgang Klafki’s Key Problems – a Didaktik Point of Departure, by Martin Holmgaard Laursen, the reader meets a systematic introduction to one of the main influences in Danish school pedagogy and didactics. The author introduces Klafki’s concept of key problems, framing these as important yet unsolvable societal problems, such as global inequali- ty or the ecological issue of climate chan- ge. Working with these key problems will, according to Klafki, develop pupils’ empathy and solidarity. In his article, Laursen presents a critique of this normative goal and discusses this perspective on Bildung or Dannelse instead as a pedagogical approach.

An example of Danish pedagogy based on common notions of Dannelse is introduced in the article Learning and Teacher Roles, by Knud Illeris. In his article, Il- leris elaborate on his well-known model of learning in relation to the teacher and role of the teacher. Illeris presents what he calls an ideal, that can provide the teacher with a basis for reflecting on her own un- derstanding and role when teaching. The learning model which Illeris presents is a theoretical hybrid, fusing psychodyna- mic, cognitive and social theories. The model is used and taught to a great extent in teacher education programs as well as other educational settings in Denmark, where learning is a subject of interest.

In 2003, Unge Pædagoger published the article The Authentic Teacher, by Per Fibæk Laursen. This article is still one of the most read articles in teacher education programs focusing on the teacher as practitioner. It provides a humanistic and well-founded portrait of the qualities of a teacher in relation to providing pupils with good instruction and contexts for learning. As Laursen writes in his introduction: “We have to revise and expand our conception of what constitutes the know- ledge base of the teaching profession. To a larger extent, it should involve the perception of personal intention, engagement and intuitive expertise. The conventional concept of wisdom regarding profession and professionalism is far too narrow”


The second section of this thematic issue, Trends, addresses some of the tendencies concerning the Danish Folkeskole, both past and current.

The article, Renouncing the Colour Tyranny – Teaching Aids Reflected in a Gendered Looking Glassaids, by Anders Simmelkiær Laraignou shows us how the use of some teaching-aids conflicts with the basic intentions of Dannelse emphasised by the Danish Folkeskole, and demonstra- tes how teachers lack the tools needed to counter ingrained gender discourses: “As learning remedies increasingly characte- rise teaching didactics, this article takes a closer look at what gender views such a teaching aid may contain.” (This issue, p. OBS)

In the article “…But it’s a Completely Different School!” – the Status of Inclusion in the Danish Folkeskole in a Learning- focused School Policy, the authors Lotte Hedegaard-Sørensen and Sine Penthin Grumløse discuss conditions for inclusive practice in relation to a school policy with a strong focus on learning targets. With reference to a research study, they show how inclusive ambitions conflict with learning ambitions, pointing out that: “It turns out that education policy permeates school life, and inclusion fades away in a professional focus on subject didactics.” (This issue, p.OBS.). The articles bring in- sights into the role of policy on practices of inclusion in the Danish Folkeskole.

In the article Dynamics in the Teacher-pupil Relationship, Louise Klinge invites us into the classroom, where in-depth analy- ses of interactions between four teachers and 50 pupils are presented and understo- od by way of Self-Determination Theory. Alternating between teachers’- and pupils’ perspectives, Klinge demonstrates the de- mands of this particular relationship, and the consequences for learning teachers’ (in)ability to manage these relations- hips can have. As Klinge writes: “Anyone, who has tried teaching, knows how many things you have to take care of at the same time, so it can be extremely difficult to see what you should do differently, when things start to fall apart.”(this issue, p. OBS)

In Peter Dahler-Larsen’s article Evaluation Culture – an Appealing Concept?, the author seeks to qualify the evaluation culture in the Danish school system, both concerning teachers, pupils, leaders and parents. Since evaluation is a core ele- ment for Didaktik, this article still holds significant value, despite being written in a period where evaluation was trending in Denmark. According to Daher-Larsen, a fruitful evaluation culture is based on experiments and a practical approach to the concept of data. He underlines that sharing and discussing observations is the key to a professional identification of problems, which should lead to well-in- formed, evaluation-based decisions.

The final article in this thematic issue Governing by Common Targets – the Educational Conflict of the Last Decade, is not a direct translation but a contribution by Hans Dorf based on two earlier articles in Unge Pædagoger. The article takes an in-depth look at what the author terms the educational conflict of the last decade. As Dorf writes: “The inherent conflict be- hind it is about how to ensure the output of compulsory schooling, which degree of professional freedom teachers should be allowed, which understanding of the ac- quisition of subject knowledge and skills is preferable, and what should be the general object of compulsory schooling.” (This is- sue, p. OBS). These most central questions are addressed and ideas of how to move forward are presented.

On Translating – from Danish Ideas and Meanings to English Texts

As demonstrated in the introduction to the Danish Folkeskole and the presentation of key terms above, translating from one cultural understanding and its correlated language to another requires much consideration; any work of translation requires reflecting on the meanings being made in both the original and the translated text and as such provides a rich context for engaging with both ideas and language. For this reason, pre-service teachers studying English as one of their teaching subjects at Køben- havns Professionshøjskole (University Col- lege of Copenhagen), were invited to provide a first draft translation of most of the Danish articles in this issue. This gave students an opportunity to purposefully engage with central Danish pedagogic literature and concepts, while at the same time employ- ing and bettering their understanding of the English language, aspects of which they soon will be teaching in Danish schools. The editorial team revised and proof-read these drafts, discussing issues of translating central meanings and terms resulting in the brief introductions above. After the editorial team’s proof-reading and reworking of these drafts, the authors were given the opportunity to confirm, potentially elaborate, and in some cases rework, sections of their articles with you, the non-Danish reader in mind. The translated articles collected in this is- sue are thus the result of a collaborative process, and effort has been made to pre- sent English translations that closely reflect the authors’ original meanings and tone. The aim of doing this at times difficult work has been to make Danish educational and pedagogical literature accessible to you, the non-Danish-speaking

individuals interested in, and potentially living and working within Danish education. In doing so, we hope to unveil education “done the Danish way”, bidding you welcome!

We hope you enjoy the issue!

Social change, political interests, and educational ideas: The Danish Folkeskole 1960 – 2010
By Kathrine Degn, Sidse Hølvig Mikkelsen & Hans Dorf

Didaktik and Citizenship – Principles for a Didaktik on Citizenship
By Alexander Von Oettingen

Wolfgang Klafki’s Key Problems – a Didactical point of departure
By Martin Holmgaard Laursen

Learning and teacher roles
By Knud Illeris

The Authentic Teacher
By Per Fibæk Laursen

Renouncing the Colour Tyranny- Teaching Aids reflected through a Gendered Looking Glass
By Anders Simmelkiær Laraignou

…But it’s a Completely Different School! – The Status of Inclusion in the Danish Folkeskole in a Learning-focused School Policy
By Lotte Hedegaard-Sørensen and Sine Penthin Grumløse

Dynamics in the Teacher-pupil Relationship
By Louise Klinge

Evaluation Culture – an Appealing Concept?
By Peter Dahler-Larsen

Governing by Targets – the Educational Conflict of the Last Decade
By Hans Dorf

Temanummeret er redigeret af Morten Raahauge Philipps, Nikolaj Arthur Deichmann Haas, Anna-Vera Meidell Sigsgaard, Susanne Karen Jacobsen og Hasse Møller.

125,00 dkk

Antal sider: 113