Education and Social Integration: Comprehensive Schooling in by Susanne Wiborg (auth.)

By Susanne Wiborg (auth.)

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After Denmark was attacked by Great Britain in 1801 and 1807, it entered into an alliance with Napoleon. After Denmark-Norway was defeated, Norway was ceded to the king of Sweden in 1814. However, the war did not in itself propel mass education, but it certainly hastened it. In fact, the School Act of 1814, which made education obligatory for all, was in preparation for more than twenty-five years by the Great School 34 Education and Social Integration Commission established in 1789. The work of the Commission should be seen as a part of the major agricultural reform movement initiated by governments from 1788, which modernized farm production and led to an independent and politically articulate class of peasants (Feldbæk, 1988).

By contrast, in Norway the social condition in the country was rather stable. The Scottish Liberal, Samuel Laing, encapsulated this when, in the 1830s, he claimed that “there is probably not in the history of mankind another instance of a free constitution, not erected amidst ruins and revolutions, not cemented in blood, but taken from the closet of the philosopher and quietly reared and set to work, and found suitable without alteration to all the ends of good government” (quoted after Rust, 1989, 32).

The government established an agricultural commission of civil servants and landowners to ensure that the reforms were carried out. These reforms were largely implemented before the Napoleonic wars, which brought the reform work to a halt. In relation to elementary schooling, a new scheme was launched in connection with the land reforms on crown and private estates in northern Zealand in 1784–1786. The scheme was based on the assumption that long-term consolidation of innovative land usage and tenure systems would benefit from an elementary schooling that focused on a comprehensive and functional curriculum.

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