“The core of liberal adult education is listening to another person”, says Gösta Vestlund, Swedish adult educator, rector and author. Mr Vestlund turned 100-years-old in June 2013. His career in adult education and the folk high school movement spans nine decades. Still an active thinker and debater, Mr Vestlund discusses the past, present and future of adult education.
- was born in 1913 in the Dalecarlia region of Sweden into a poor small farmer family.
- became unemployed in the 1930s and was directed into a folk high school as part of a state-run employment programme.
- found an intellectual and emotional home in the folk high school, which brings together people of different backgrounds and vocations.
- studied, among others, history, pedagogy and psychology at the University of Uppsala.
- was teacher and rector in 1934—1982 at different folk high schools, e.g. Brunnsvik, Sigtuna and Tollare.
- worked at the national board of education in 1956—1978 as inspector of folk high schools.
- consulted the building of a folk high school network in Tanzania in the 1970s.
- has written several books on democracy and liberal adult education.
Please note: In the interview, the Swedish word “folkbildning” is translated as liberal adult education. Folkbildning is a type of non-formal adult education typical to the Nordic countries and Germany. Its educational philosophy rests on principles of personal development, lifelong learning, active citizenship, ethics and democracy.The Grundtvigian folk high school is one of the embodiments of folkbildning.