Denmark_Flag.gifDenmark is a Scandanavian country in Northern Europe that is bordered on the south by Germany and is southwest of Sweden. Its capital is Copenhagen located on the eastern border of the country. The official language is Danish. Of the approximately 5.5 million people in the country, 90.1% are of Danish ethnicity; the rest are of other ethnicities. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government that has been part of the European Union since 1973. With a mixed market capitalist economy, Denmark ranks as the world's highest level of income equality with the best business climate in the world. Some surveys have ranked Denmark as "the happiest place in the world" on the basis of standards of health, welfare and education.

education_system_in_denmark.gifThe education system in Denmark is similar to the United States. Children are entitled to free tuition at primary and lower secondary schools (ages 7-15) which constitute the 9 years of compulsory education. After lower secondary schools, students are given the option and the freedom to choose amongst the several types of higher education, or move on to get a job. Upper secondary school is one option that prepares students for higher education and entrance into universities. It consists of two or three year courses that teach core courses in preparation for higher study and universities. Another option is to attend vocational schools that provide training for vocational education in social and health care programs. The arts in their education play the same role as they do here in the United States. Like Americans, the Danish share the belief that a "well informed population is an important pre-requisite for a well functioning society". How they define "well informed" is subjective and may be hindering to the arts. Fine arts are presented and taught through primary and lower secondary schools, but seem to take on the role of leisurely activities. They are taught in addition to core courses (like math and science) instead of being one of them.

Higher educational facilities provide wider opportunities for students to pursue the arts. Dance, music, theatre, and fine arts schools offer arts education as another option after upper secondary schools. The Danish National School of Theatre, for example, is Denmark’s only school that offers training in theatre and contemporary dance. It’s mission is to be able to train performers to be able to create dramatic art at a professional level. The unique feature about the school is its interdisciplinary approach. They focus on collaboration between fields and artistic disciplines. For example, students spend their first weeks at the school in a “Common basis” course that teaches them how to develop a common language amongst each other. This common language may be concepts through practical exercises focusing on movement, spatial, visual imagination, sound, etc. Next they are given instruction in historical schools of thought in culture, art, music, dance and theatre. Their method of teaching not only teaches them the foundation of their passion in a standard instructive way, but it also allows them to get involved in this instruction and communicate what they are learning through the many artistic ways that are appropriate to each student there. This blend of instruction is a good reflection of the education system in Denmark. Students are not only instructed in the classroom on their primary focus of study, but they are also motivated by the government and educational systems to apply those skills early in readily available jobs.

Artist Profile - Hans Christian Anderson

240px-Andersen-hc.jpgDanish author and poet Hans Christian Anderson was known for having delighted children worldwide. He is most famous for his children's stories such as Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, and The Little Mermaid. Born April 2, 1805 in the town of Odense, Denmark, Anderson grew up feeling different from everyone else. He was highly emotional as a child, faced humiliation due to his tallness and effeminate interests, suffered from attacks of cramps, and upon encouragement from his parents, turned to composing fairy tales and puppet show theatre.

He moved to Copenhagen to start a career as a singer, dancer or actor. Associated with the Royal Theater with his unique soprano voice, he had to leave it when his voice began to change. When a friend suggested he might become a poet, he had a revelation. "It went through me, body and soul, and tears filled my eyes. I knew that, from this very moment, my mind was awake to writing and poetry".

Upon completing his education at Copenhagen University he made his breakthrough with The Imporovisatore. Gaining international success and lifelong fame, he was able to write about his passion with Fairy Tales and Stories. The famous children's stories told in this volume of books is what he is most famous for today. Shortly after writing a memoir on his life and his travels, on August 4, 1875, he passed away in his home. Leaving behind a legacy of children's tales for young and old, he remains a cherished artist in the hearts of the Danes.


Arts Organization - Dansens Hus

Founded in 1985, Dansens Hus, translated Dance House, has been a center for modern dance and is an independent institution under the Ministry of Culture. It is an institution that brings dance to schools and the community and allows children and everyone else involved how to express themselves in this form of art. Modern Dance on Tour is a program part of Dance House that tours the country to share the performances with a broader audience. There are lots of opportunities for children to be involved with the institution. Dance projects arrange for professionals to show short performances and do workshops. Dance Glasshouse is another program for children and adolescents that allows students to become prepared and educated in modern dance. It has training in dance technique, and helps prepare for entrance to the School of Contemporary Dance.

This is a video of one of the dance shows at Dance House in 2007. It shows the contemporary dance form that students learn and perform. Dance8 is another program of Dance House. It is an intensive dance course for 8th class students in deprived neighborhoods to come together and create for themselves a dance show that they will perform on a professional stage. To learn more about this program visit the Dance House website, or go directly to

Teacher Training Program

To become a teacher in Denmark, you may attend one of the 18 public teaching colleges in the country and receive their certification. One of the tasks necessary to qualify is "To create a school that speaks to the imagination and feelings of the child through the narrative: discussions, storytelling, song, dance, drama, games and creative activities and fellowship – creating activities." To successfully accomplish this task, it is evident that the teacher must be well trained in the arts and their education must surely involve training in the arts.

Det Nødvendige Seminarium (DNS), translated as The Necessary Teacher Training College, located in Ulfborg, Denmark is an international teacher training college with a learning-by-doing approach. Instead of being a traditional standard program that will live up to the qualifications of being a teacher, this educational program is more focused on "constant, dynamic dialogue with the world around it". It allows future teachers to grow from personal experiences from around the world. It makes them capable of understanding and displaying important life experiences so that they may provide the best teaching environment and provide this knowledge to the next generation.

In their travels with the program the students undertake in investigations. These investigations help them to experience first hand the issues of the people they are visiting by living with them for a few days. For example, a group of students traveled to India and lived in the slums with the people there for a week. They talked to them, listened to them, learned from them. Since the computer is rare in such circumstances, they involved the people with the arts. They played theater, wrote poems, made songs, created interactive stories, and of course, drew art. Their involvement with the arts and the people helped them to learn about the culture and use this knowledge to be better teachers of the future.

Funding for Arts Education

In 2009, Denmark's state cultural expenditure (direct and municipalities) was a total of 16.3 billion DKK. Of the 10.2 billion DKK of direct state expenditure, 25% was devoted to the arts (visual arts, architecture and design, performing arts, music and theater). The rest was designated to cultural goods and media.

Denmark has a long tradition of public support for artistic and cultural activities.The support for the arts was started by the Church, then gradually shifted to the royal family. When the civil administration newly formed in the middle of the 19th century, it took the responsibility. It was only in 1961 that the Danish government established the Ministry of Culture and it could implement programs for cultural legislations. This recently established Ministry is still progressing to establish a successful blend of arts and culture within the society. I believe that the continual increase in budget expenditures for the arts is evidence to this progress.


Though it may not be the most progressed in arts education, Denmark is slowly developing the blend of culture with the arts. There is evidence to suggest that the growth of the arts in Denmark is reflective of its culture. Being ranked one of the happiest places in the world must surely involve an appropriate balance of the arts in one's lifestyle in Denmark. I was surprised to learn that such a non-traditional, artistically involved method of teacher training would be available in Denmark. I had no idea that such programs existed in which the core of the learning happened on first hand experience at a practical level. I was also surprised to learn that only 9 years of education is compulsory in the country and that there are jobs readily available to anyone seeking them.

The amount of involvement the arts had in primary and upper secondary schools is similar to the United States. Though there are separate classes for music and art in schools, these are separated from the core curriculum, and are viewed as leisurely activities. From personal experience, I would agree with the attitude of taking art and music classes lightly and not viewing them as a part of my learning process. It never mattered to me how much effort I put into such classes, and I viewed them separate from my core courses.