Poul la Cour

Folk high school teacher

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Poul la Cour, painted in 1914.
  

      In 1878, the principal of Askov Folk High School, Ludvig Schroeder, decided to establish the Extended Folk High School in Askov and hereby include advanced mathematics and physics in the curriculum. Earlier that year, Ludvig Schroeder had met Poul la Cour and encouraged him to teach at Askov which Poul la Cour accepted.
     This resulted in an interesting collision of science and the historical and poetical folk high school.
     At that time, Poul la Cour was a successful inventor but he had neglected his job at the Meteorological Institute and almost ruined his family because of the expenses of his many inventions. His wife, Hulda Barfod, was therefore eager for him to leave this form of life. Furthermore, she was familiar with the folk high school tradition as she herself had been a student at Askov in 1867.
     At the time, there was a growing conflict 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 separate this lifestyle from the more religious way of life of the Folk High School. As a scientist, he defended the modern world view. But at the same time he was deeply involved in the religious aspect of life and he was the prime mover in establishing the Askov congregation as well as the construction of Askov Church.
     La Cour was also one of the pioneers behind the introduction of the harmonic style of Swedish gymnastics in replacement of the more military Danish style. For 30 years he was also the chairman of the rifle club of Ribe county.
     During his years as a teacher at Askov, he wrote many textbooks and the books ”Historical mathematics” and ”Historical Physics” were used many years after his death.

Poul la Cour.
Painting by J. C. Schlichtkrull.
Painted in 1914 from an earlier photograph.
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 Poul la Cour, year unknown.

Poul la Cour,
year unknown.
     
   
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