More Bildung for Adult Education - Towards a holistic understanding of ALE (adult learning and education) in the 21st Century

Towards a holistic understanding of ALE (adult learning and education) in the 21st Century

Trainings in Danish Folkhighschools start with singing a song. What is the ratio behind this tradition? In their book “The Nordic Secret”, Lene Rachel Andersen and Tomas Björkman claim that the success of the Nordic countries is closely linked to their concept of education. The journey of the Nordic countries from being one of the poorest and remotest regions in Europe to being a forerunner in many aspects seems to be closely linked to the success of the folkbidning concept. It creates an adult learning culture based on humanistic concepts of individual growth and the holistic development of communities and societies. This concept represents an interesting alternative to the instrumental view on adult learning, as it was dominant throughout the last decades.

The event aimed to explore the potential of the folkbildning concept and the ideas, which shaped the concept, for the further development of the ALE sector. We discussed whether the current challenges around climate change, pandemic, digitalization and coherence in the society create the need for rethinking our concepts and creating new formats, which enable citizens to reflect, act and shape the transformations in their life, communities and societies. Additionally, a set of good practices from different European countries inspired.


  • DVV International (Institute for International Cooperation of the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband)
  • EAEA (European Association for the Education of Adults)
  • VHS Bonn (Adult Education Center, Bonn)
  • EAAL Germany (European Agenda for Adult Learning / National Agency Education for Europe)


Presentations/further information

Lene Rachel Andersen (Nordic Bildung)

The Danish Secret

The Bildung Rose


On the topic of Nordic Education, Lene Rachel Andersen has written an article on “Bildung and folk-bildung the nordic Way” for the Journal of the National Agency Education for Europe. 
You can find the original article here and the German translation for the journal here (p. 40/41).

Prof. Dr. Rudolph Tippelt (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

More „Bildung“ in adult education -A holistic conception of „Bildung“ - Comment (8 thesis)

Project presentations:

Jaume Vidal (Lo Pont Adult Training Centre of Gentis Foundation): No som curts!

Caronlina Magdalene Maier (Danish Adult Education Association): Danish storytelling

Meike Woller (dvv international): How to create safe, appreciative learning spaces for refugees?


Please find here a detailed documentation and a summary.


Language: English