Teaching a nation

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Access to knowledge and education has been at the heart of power struggles throughout the ages, and groups such as the nobility, the church and the state have all tried to monopolise it. In modern times, the exchange of knowledge has been used as the primary method to ensure the growth of democracy in Denmark. Today, no one in Denmark has an exclusive right to learning. Education is free and available to all, and information about any subject is readily available on the internet.

The first time the concept of school appeared in a Danish context was about the year 830, when the archbishop and missionary Ansgar taught 12 boys about preaching the Christian Gospel. For the next 1,000 years the main task of schools was to raise young people as good Christians – initially schools were run by Catholics, after the Reformation the Lutherans took over.
Several types of schools existed in the Middle Ages: monastic schools, cathedral schools and in the 15th century urban schools. Schools were only for sons of noble families, while their daughters had private tutors. The language of instruction was Latin, and the goal was primarily to educate boys to become priests. Before the University of Copenhagen was founded in 1497, boys had to travel to foreign universities if they wanted a proper theological education. A number of European universities were founded in the Middle Ages. The first was in Bologna in 1088.

Lutheran parish…

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