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Folk High School Teacher

Poul la Cour as a teacher at Askov

   In 1878, the principal of Askov Folk High School, Ludvig Schroeder, decided to establish the Extended Folk High School in Askov and include advanced mathematics and physics in the curriculum. Earlier that year, Schroeder had met Poul la Cour and encouraged him to teach at Askov, and invitation that la Cour accepted. This resulted in an interesting collision of science and the arts at the historical and poetical folk high school.

     At the time, la Cour was a successful inventor but had neglected his job at the Meteorological Institute and almost ruined his family financially because of the cost of his many inventions. His wife, Hulda Barfod, was therefore eager for him to leave this form of life. She was also familiar with the folk high school tradition, having been a student at Askov in 1867.

Poul la Cour - year unknown

    When la Cour came to Askov, there was a growing conflict in Danish Society between the existing interpretation of the bible and the evolutionism of modern science. Poul la Cour was a modern and progressive scientist, but he knew how to balance this with the more religious way of life of the Folk High School. As a scientist, he defended the modern worldview. At the same time, however, he was deeply involved in the religious aspect of life, and was the prime mover in establishing the Askov congregation and constructing the Askov Church.

     La Cour was also one of the pioneers behind the introduction of the harmonic style of Swedish gymnastics, a replacement of the more militaristic Danish style. For 30 years, he was also the chairman of Ribe county’s rifle club.

     During his years as a teacher at Askov, la Cour wrote many textbooks, including Historical mathematics and Historical Physics, which were used for many years following his death.