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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/29

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RISE OF THE LOWER CLASSES

the summertime most of the village schools were empty, and often the teacher had had but little training and received but little salary. But in 1814 a reform of the whole system of elementary education was introduced. This reform, which had been in preparation for some time, was very important. For many years it made Denmark a model country in regard to educational matters, although it was found impossible to carry out the original plans in full on account of the frugality of the taxpayers and the poor economic condition of the country in general.

Access to university training has without doubt been easier for people of moderate circumstances in Denmark than in many other countries, and many gifted peasant boys have been helped along to advanced studies and have thus formed a link between the upper and lower classes. Of great importance was the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural College, which was founded in 1856 and soon superseded older institutions. A group of excellent teachers here raised the teaching to a high level and conducted valuable researches in the various fields of inquiry. Early in the nineteenth century, moreover, came an interesting development in the form of high schools for adults, especially for young peasants. These schools have played a very important part in the social life of Denmark, and honour is especially due to the famous N. F. S. Grundtvig for the impulse which he gave to their establishment. In a number of treatises he expounded his idea, and in 1844 he succeeded in bringing about the foundation of the first high school, which was in Rödding (Sleswick). Some years later his example was followed in a few other places, and after 1864 the movement progressed rapidly. In the course of time many excellent men made their influence felt in these schools; and even though the amount of knowledge obtainable in the short time that young men or women could generally spend in school (as a rule only six months) could be neither extensive nor thorough, it was, nevertheless, sufficient greatly to widen their intellectual