by Lene Rachel Andersen
Bildung is moral and emotional maturity. Bildung is also to have the education and knowledge necessary to thrive in your society; bildung is to be deeply embedded in culture and community while having the autonomy to carve your own path in life. Bildung is always personal and unique.Bildung is a German word that has no word in English. Beginning in the 1770s, German philosophers explored bildung as a secular form of inner development and it became popular among the bourgeoisie.In Denmark, a pastor realized in the 1830s that the peasants needed bildung too, and he envisioned a new kind of school: the folk-high-school. In 1851, a Danish teacher, Christen Kold, figured out how to teach in such a way that young farmhands learned to think for themselves: he told them moving stories and let them ask questions. Once he had their attention, he could teach them new farming techniques, science, philosophy, history, religion, literature, art, economic theory, and political science. Norway, Sweden and Finland copied the folk-high-school concept in the 1860s and by 1900, a critical mass of youngsters in the Nordic countries had upgraded their skills and their thinking, and the Nordics had gone from being among the poorest countries in Europe to being among the richest. This development and the bildung that carried it also meant that the Nordics made the transition from agricultural feudal societies to modern, democratic, industrialized nation-states peacefully.As we are facing new challenges from digitization, globalization, a pandemic and environmental changes we need bildung for the 21st century and the book concludes by exploring what that might look like.
From Lene’s personal website:
I am an economist, author, futurist, philosopher and Bildung activist. After studying business economy for three years, I worked as a temp teacher before I studied theology. During my studies, I wrote entertainment for Danish television until I decided to quit theology, become a fulltime writer and focus on technological development, big history and the future of humanity.
Since 2005, I have written 15 books and received two Danish democracy awards: Ebbe Kløvedal-Reich Democracy Baton (2007) and Døssing Prisen, the Danish librarians’ democracy prize (2012).