Joan McInnes


folk schools, Cooperative Movement, adult continuing education, Danish heritage


This is a personal story. It is an attempt to trace my philosophy of adult continuing education (ACE) to my roots in Denmark and to uncover the reasons why entering the Adult Education Program at Northern Illinois University (NIU) felt like coming home after many years of trying to find a place in a society that was philosophically out of harmony with my essence. Throughout my degree program, I have noticed that whenever Highlander Folk School was discussed in classes or in the literature, it struck a chord with me. This feeling went unexplored due to time constraints or other priorities but, like a persistent nudge, it surfaced again and again. I decided to investigate and what I found was an amazing (at least to me) story of a personal philosophy that seems to be in my blood. I begin with a brief personal history. My grandparents (all four of them) were born in Denmark. In the 1880s, as children and young adults, they immigrated to America with their families. They ultimately homesteaded in two Danish settlements in Minnesota. My father's family came to Askov, north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. My mother's grandparents were one of fifteen pioneer families to establish the Danebod colony in Tyler in the southwest corner of Minnesota. Here my grandparents met, married, and raised their family.