Written by The Critical Pedagogical Folk High School
The Critical Pedagogical Folk High School is a newly established organization in Denmark which aims at creating a critical folk high school by 2019. In only a short period of time, the school has become a popular organization with a strong base in the welfare professions and pedagogical fields. Critical Edges has been fortunate enough to receive their constitutional manifesto translated into English by our companions in the folk high school.
The Critical Pedagogical Folk High School originated as a concern for the increased tendency to market-thinking, New Public Management, and control of the welfare professionals at work and in the field of education. We believe that this tendency alienates people.
In work and education environments, the critical approach is rare. On an international level, the neo-liberal paradigm creates tough conditions for change in the welfare professions internally. In this context, we believe it is necessary to create an open critical forum, which we see as a foundation for a living democratic society. We need alternatives where community thinking, trust, and creativity are at the center.
We see the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School as a political institution, with the purpose of participating in the public debate with a critical perspective. Our goal is to unite many critical representatives, in order to build a folk high school together, that can contribute to a change in society.
We want to create a Critical Folk High School, that addresses actual relevant pedagogical issues. Pedagogy is about edification (Bildung, paideia) – a question of which values, human beings and society we wish to form. We do not believe in one universal pedagogy, nor in the all are equally good or valid approaches. The pedagogy must be seen in the context in which it is practiced and how it builds on a critical foundation.
We reject objectives developed through quantitative assessment and management. When people are measured and evaluated, they are objectified, which prevents them from acting as free and equal subjects.
The pedagogy of the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School focuses on the concrete experiences of people and offers everyone the opportunity to participate on an equal footing. The people in and around the Folk High School must be engaged and experience full participation in the daily programs. It is our wish that the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School can promote a critical, reflective and experimental approach to pedagogy.
In our perspective, critique is the ability to assess and must be understood as a strife for change and influence on unacceptable conditions in society. Critique is aimed at something specific and refers to an opportunity or a potential option that is still to be unfolded. Therefore, critical thinking is essential for creating a better world. To think critically is not self-evident, but rather something we are culturally educated into (Bildung). We want to contribute to the liberation of people by uncovering the structures and hidden mechanisms that repress people.
We perceive the formation of critique and critical actions as an essential part of a learning process (Bildung) and it is developed between people, in responsive, equal and inclusive cooperation. The Bildung-process opens for an awareness of the structures and classes in society.
We wish to create the best conditions for the formation of mature and self-aware human beings, who are able to participate in solidary and democratic processes. This is developed through facilitating experimental educational activities focused on the learning process and created in constant interaction between participants and the material they work with.
Present and Direct Democracy
In the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School, we do not see democracy solely as voting at elections. Democracy is an active practice performed in interaction with each other. All human beings are equal and should therefore have equal rights to participate in the decision-making which affects their everyday life. The Critical Pedagogical Folk High School must therefore build on the present and direct democracy, and this should be reflected in the outline of the structures and organization of the project and the daily life in the Folk High School.
Through dialog and solidarity, we create the best conditions for the human cultural formation (Bildung) and a meaningful everyday life. The daily life on the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School will be dynamic and founded on the different individual people surrounding the project.
Communities of Experience
The Critical Pedagogical Folk High School Bildung is a social and exact process, in which you are shaped by and with other human beings. We wish that the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School consists of action-oriented communities, based on the experiences we hold and create together in the Bildung processes. We believe aesthetics to be a key element in these processes. Experience is sensory based, and we believe that the direct interaction with the surrounding world can be liberating. When we communicate through aesthetic expressions, we manifest ourselves and take form as individuals and as a community. We believe that aesthetic communities of experience, empower people to act independently and participate in democratic processes.
We want to encourage doubt and reflection on our convictions in our activities. In order to strengthen the individual to open up to the experience of a togetherness in the aesthetic learning process.
The aesthetic approach can lead to recognition through experience, feeling, sensation and action. We want to develop critical Bildung processes and aesthetic learning processes must therefore have an exploratory and critical approach to the topic we jointly work with. We must dare to stand in the open, where we challenge existing frameworks, structures and norms.
Collaboration and Process
Currently, the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School is still developing and can take many forms. We hope that together, we can create a process that reflects the conceptual basis presented here. We wish to cooperate widely and acknowledge that there is a need for all individuals, institutions, and organizations who can vouch for this conceptual framework to help us fulfill the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School.
Pictures by the Critical Pedagogical Folk High School