Chapter 1 Teaching and Educational Reforms in Denmark and Norway c. 1500–1750

In: Exploring Textbooks and Cultural Change in Nordic Education 1536–2020

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The Lutheran reformation of 1536 for centuries shaped the framework for teaching and educational reforms in the joint kingdom of Denmark and Norway (including Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroes). The Latin schools of the Church were re-organised as a nationwide school system, which was to provide the Church with Lutheran clergymen. Instruction in how to read and write in the vernacular, as well as skills such as arithmetic or reckoning, were left to initiatives by local authorities, private tutors or parents to organise. To this educational division, the reformation made the crucial addition of compulsory instruction in basic Christianity for all children following Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. The Church was tasked with providing or monitoring the catechism teaching, which in the following centuries led to a definite increase in literacy rates because catechising included instruction in reading for all children. In order to further enhance the instruction of, first and foremost, children from poor families, the Crown in 1739 made provisions for public elementary schools nationwide.


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