Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig was a Danish bishop, poet, author, hymn writer, philosopher, historian, teacher and politian. Further he was the founder of Grundtvigianism, which established free-schools and folk high schools across Denmark, to support free and informal education.
Born on 8 September 1783 in Udby, Denmark, Grundtvig was the son of a Lutheran pastor and a mother who “had great respect for old Norse legends and traditions”. Grundtvig developed a great religious understanding and a fascination with myths and sagas.
He was accepted at Copenhagen University where he studied theology and got his degree in 1803. After that he took the position of tutor on the island Langeland where he used his spare time to study literature.
After a religious crisis in 1810 Grundtvig turned towards Lutheranism and “became his father’s curate”. He went on to cause controversy by accusing other theologians of treating Christianity as a philosophical idea only. He resigned his pastorate in 1826 but carried on writing. After 1844 he founded folk high schools where “young people of every class were encouraged to be educated. These schools spread throughout Scandinavia and inspired adult education in several other countries.”
After working as a preacher at Copenhagen’s Vartov Hospital Grundtvig became a bishop in 1861.
Grundtvig died in Copenhagen on 2 September 1872.
N. F. S. Grundtvig lends his name to the EU’s Grundtvig programme which “focuses on the teaching and study needs of learners taking adult education and ‘alternative’ education courses, as well as the organisations delivering these services. It aims to help develop the adult education sector, as well as enable more people to undertake learning experiences, notably in other European countries.”
Read more about the Grundtvig programme on http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-programme/doc86_en.htm
Grundtvig, N.F.S.. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 15, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition: http://library.eb.co.uk/eb/article-9038250