Grundtvigs ideas and thoughts about schools

Grundtvig is mostly known as a poet. Today most hymns in the songbook used in churches are written by Grundtvig. The Danish hymn writers Brorson, Grundtvig, Ingemann and Kingo’s hymns are sometimes called the fifth Gospel. However, no Danish or Nordic hymn writer surpasses the poetic spirit of Grundtvig. If one decides to read and understand  Grundtvig’s work in its entirety it would take as long as 50 years. His work spans areas anything between philosophy, theology and history. Grundtvig was the leading academic of Latin, as well as some other languages, of his age. Therefore, he was astonished when he visited England, then the leading global superpower, during the early 1830s, that such a powerful nation did not contain people with knowledge of their own language of old. Grundtvig was, due to his enormous knowledge of languages, therefore offered a position at Cambridge University to teach Ancient English. 

Grundtvig was impressed by the straightforwardness and diligence of the English people. He saw a connection between Denmark and England. Grundtvig regarded England as ‘children’ of the Scandinavians, Angles, Saxons and partly the Romans and the Normans. English Law, which later became the basis for the American legal system, originated in Scandinavia. It is, and was, quite different from the Central and Southern European Law systems, which were instead based on Ancient Roman Law.

Grundtvig regarded the German school system with a secondary school, high school and then college, as rather elitist. If we had to implement such a system in Denmark it would be difficult to establish a folkelighed (people-like/like the people) and a democracy. The difference between scholars and common people would be greatly enhanced.