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