About us...

The Independent Academy for Free School Teaching

Situated on the southern coast of the island of Funen in Denmark, the Independent Academy for Free School Teaching was founded in 1949 and has since been the center for the nurture and development of Free School thinking and practice.

It is a unique institution devoted to educating teachers capable of fulfilling the needs of all three categories of Free School: Free Schools, Folk High Schools and ‘Efterskole’. It says something for the strength of the tradition it embodies that to this day the college remains independent, ‘free’ to determine its own values, pedagogy, curricula, staffing and teaching programs, and to evaluate the abilities of students without recourse to examinations. 

The course is residential and lasts for five years. This may seem a long time by some standards, but students here learn much more than their subjects and the relevant educational theory. They are involved in democratic processes at every level, acquire a deep insight into social dynamics, develop a wide range of what some might see as extra-curricular skills, and are constantly challenged personally, socially and didactically. Furthermore, the whole third year is spend as a teaching practice at Free school, ‘Efterskole’ or Folk high school. 

Due to the highly specialized focus on the Danish free schools, all classes and courses are taught in Danish. Thus, it is a requirement for all students to be able to speak, read and write Danish at a level suitable for a higher education. 

The pedagogical principles and practice of the free schools

Being a teacher at a Free School, a Folk High School or an ‘Efterskole’ requires much more than being able to teach a subject, since such schools are expected to deliver more than traditional teaching. From the beginning, the main aim of these schools have been Life enlightenment – in the tradition of N.F.S. Grundtvig – besides their more formal educational aims. 

So being a student at The Academy involves the development not only of teaching skills but also of human, social and democratic qualities. The teachers have acquired not only comprehensive and in-depth knowledge and ability in their chosen subjects and in related educational theory, but also a firm grounding in psychology, pedagogy and didactics, in relevant aspects of philosophy, ethics, language, story-telling, democracy, citizenship, history, national and cultural identity, as well as the tradition and history of the Danish free schools. 

And important part of the free schools – especially the Folk high schools and ‘Efterskoler’ – is the aspect of living together. These schools are organized as boarding schools, where the students (and often also the teachers) live at the school. This aspect becomes and import element of the school’s pedagogical practice. 

At the The Independent Academy for Free School Teaching, we try as much as possible to implement this aspect in our daily life at the school. 75% of the students live at the school, every day starts with a common morning assembly, everybody eats together, and much of the students free time outside the classroom is spend in the various creative workshops at the school or in different leisure activities ranging from music to sports. 

Livet på Den frie Lærerskole