The origin of the folk high school movement dates back to the early 20th century. N.F.S. Grundvig was not very keen on the way classes were taught. The methods offered classic knowledge but not the essential “Enlightenment of Life”. He picked up the gauntlet and formulated methods for a better learning environment. It may sound a bit outdated, but it is really what a folk high school does best. It can prepare you to life in a manner you will only know if you have tried something similar.
The founders of Højskolen Østersøen were very excited about folk high schools. One of the founders, Johannes Jensen, even found his wife at a folk high school. The other founder, Aage Damsgaard, has told he had some of his best experiences as he attended a folk high school. The ideas behind the brands Uno-X (a petrol company) and Milton Carpets were never born, had it not been for the folk high school movement.
Ready to learn German
Apart from being friends and folk high school enthusiasts the two founders shared an ability the read the development of the Danish export markets. As The Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989 they saw a huge market potential in the 16 million new Germans.
The founders were, however, worried whether the Danish youth was ready to do business with the huge numbers of customers. If you want to do business with Germans, you have to speak German.
So they set forth creating a folk high school which main aim was to teach young people German within the relatively free learning environment at a folk high school.
The objective was to make it fun to learn German.
Since it’s establishment Højskolen Østersøen has developed various projects. At first for Danes who wanted to experience German, Germany, and German culture and see if it was for their liking. Later on projects evolved for Germans who wanted to speak Danish and work I Denmark.
In 2012 the school launches the demoCRAZY course which offers new exciting possibilities in which young people (of all ages) are invited to a thee-months course on Democracy and society.
In 2004 we had the idea to add an extra dimension with the well proven teaching philosophy of Grundtvig. The idea is called “Højskole PLUS” and is today a thoroughly tested concept in which we thorough our network provide jobs for our students in the German speaking areas. The Skibums (ski instructor) project is one of three current projects.
In 2011 Højskolen Østersøen received the European Language Prize. The reasons highlighted were that HØ’s Højskole PLUS concept is well thought through and is an innovative way of learning language. Højskolen Østersøen is very proud to receive the prize and accepts the responsibility following it: To constantly develop the concepts of the folk high school in years to come.
At Højskolen Østersøen we have seen many people falling in love, being in and out of personal crisis, getting a better ear and tongue for language, and gain social capacities during the school’s existence.