Time to be with yourself

At Medlefors we have had 24 hours yoga retreat in October. Twenty-five people came and stayed over night and had pure food (raw food and vegetarian food), drinking yogitea and ginger/ lemon water to detox.

They did a lot of yin and kundaliniyoga, pranayamas (breathing exercise and meditation) and they could choose if they wanted to be in silence or if they wished to speak with others. There was time to be still and rest.  The theme for this time was release and be in the present. The purpose of this 24 hours retreat was to have a break from the ordinary life and take time-in to listen to the mind and body. Yoga teachers were Ann-Charlott and Anneli. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!


The chain

This is an activity that we did in the beginning of the term, when old an new students met to get to know each other and form new groups.

In the same way that the links in a chain can become something long and strong, you and your classmates can create something great. Each individual contributes with their link, every day and every moment in school. Today you will also create the chain that will symbolise this.

In the box there are different things and materials that you can use to make your own  unique link.

Then put your links together and let them form a chain that will symbolise your class. You will also get a chance to tell the others why your chain looks the way it does.

Remember that links may look very different, and not all are oval…

/Anna, Medlefors

Evaluating the week…

We have tried different ways to let the students in our class evaluate their work, and one is the weekly log book.

Our goals with this was to

  • remind the students of what we have done the last week
  • make them reflect on the things we have done…and themselves
  • set goals for themselves…
  • …and express what they must (and mustn’t) do to achieve their goals

Every Friday, we wrote about the weeks activities together, and then the students wrote individually about their own thoughts and reactions, and set their own goals for next week.

At the end of the term, we evaluated the whole log book process.

This term we try something else…

It is often difficult to find time to sit down and talk to the students, and many of them are more comfortable in front of a keyboard than face to face with someone, especially if the topic of the conversation is difficult.

Every Friday, my colleague and I give the students in our class time to send us an e-mail. We started the term with sending them an e-mail with some questions about their thoughts, goals and worries, and asked them to reply with quote, to keep up the dialogue. Before next Friday, we reply, give them follow up questions and encourage them to write more, motivate, and not only answer yes or no. We also try to ask questions, that might be difficult (but challenging), about their own reactions, efforts, ambitions and needs.

So, we are trying and exploring different ways to let the students practice evaluating their work…

/Anna, Medlefors

5 objects -with students…

5 objects in a bag –  in a group of students…

First we talked about what is important if we want people to share their thoughts. This is what they said:

that you know what you want to say
– that you don’t care about what the others might think about you
– that the listeners show respect for your opinions
– that you feel comfortable

So, we agreed that it’s important that we help each other.

the bag, the stone, the painted glass, the shell, the key ring of buttons, the “basket”, the cIMAG1091lock,  the black statue…

I put the things on a table in the middle and asked them to examine an item, and describe or show, in some way, the object or what they felt about it or what it made them feel or think, and then hand it over to someone else who could do the same, or first exchange it for another object.

They found it a bit hard to stay serious, and to understand what to do, and mostly they described the way the object looked. Not many changed object, or took the time/ made the effort/dared to really examine the object.  When I then held up the painted glass (with green, blue and some hearts) and asked what it made them think about, one girl started to sing a well know Swedish song, and gave us an example of how you could express yourself, with that object as a starting point. I realized that they would have needed more time or preparation, since  most of them were out of their comfort zone, during this exercise.

I really wanted them to take the time to look at things, and use their senses to describe, so next step, in groups, was to look at one object at the time, and try to describe it as well as they could, using different senses and make associations. They wrote it down on a paper, and after a while we changed objects and continued to make descriptions on the same paper as the previous group, until all groups had written about all objects.

This seemed a bit easier, and they were more focused. They wrote quite a lot, both the more talkative group and the more quiet group.

A flying carpet, inspired by the bag that England brought…

The next step, in the same groups, was to choose one of the objects, seek inspiration in the descriptions and decide what the object was. The only rule, was that it couldn’t be what it really was. They had to use their imagination and invent something new, and then make a poster to show their product.

They took on this work quite seriously, and most of them were involved in their groups work. When we talked about it after they had presented their products, they said it was fun, and a good thing that there were no limits. I was glad, since one of my main goals was that everyone would take part in the exercise, and that there would be no right or wrong. I also pointed it out to them that they were able to stay focused and serious, and that we now were in a different place than when we started with the objects…

A moving-hat that will take you anywhere you want to go, inspired by the basket that Spain (?) brought

A moving-hat that will take you anywhere you want to go, inspired by the basket that Spain (?) brought

/Anna, Medlefors, Sweden

Making a vision board

This is the group that goes and read health 50% at Medlefors, they have worked doing vision boards.

A vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. It is a sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.

A creative way of getting your wishes and goals of the future from your head out to a paper and pictures.

They started first to write down some words that will be there words of value in life: for example LOVE, TRUST, COURAGE, FOCUS ON GOALS, JOY….

Then they used papers to take out words and pictures that will representat what they want in there future. After that they talk and showed there vision boards for the rest of the class. During the work music were used too increase the creativeflow!!

Best wishes!

Ann-Charlott Medlefors

ARTS in Skelleftea Sweden

Our purpose for the activity in Sweden were to show how we work with Alternative Routes To Success in Sweden and Medlefors Folkhighschool.

We want to share some of the material that we have with you. Read below or download as documents.

Swedish workshop


Folkbildning in Sweden

Swedish folkbildning is the collective name for the activities conducted by the country’s folk high schools and study associations in the form of courses, study circles and cultural
activities. Folkbildning is a part of the liberal non-formal educational system. Every year, several million Swedes participate in folkbildning activities.


Folkbildning – for lifelong learning

People want to learn and develop in many different contexts in all phases of life. Swedish folkbildning meets this need – and thereby contributes to societal development and growth. But folkbildning also has an intrinsic value because well-informed and active citizens constitute the core of democracy.

Folkbildning is open to everyone in society. In folkbildning, everyone participates on equal terms, but based on different conditions.

People seek knowledge and development through folkbildning for various reasons. All of these reasons are meaningful – regardless of whether it is a question of personal development, increasing the chances of finding a new job, or simply a desire to learn.

In study associations and folk high schools, opportunities of lifelong learning are provided through a rich offering of courses and educational programmes – everything from study
circles where a small group meets a few times in their leisure time, up to multi-year, full-time courses of study at folk high schools.


Concept of folkbildning

Folkbildning grew forth at the beginning of the last century in a Sweden where the level of education was low and large groups of the population were excluded from higher education. Folkbildning became the answer to people’s longing for knowledge and desire to influence societal development.

Folkbildning is still borne by the idea of a society with small educational rifts. There are always people, who for various reasons need alternatives to the formal educational system.
Here, folk high schools and study associations have their most important mission, based on the fundamental right of all citizens to knowledge and development.

Folkbildning is a part of the liberal non-formal education sector and is free from detailed national control. This freedom, like the strong ties to the non-profit sector, makes folkbildning a force of societal change.

The ideas of folkbildning are noticeable not least in its practical activities, through dynamic interaction with the participants. Folkbildning has the following characteristics:

  • It is always voluntary for the individual to participate in folkbildning.
  • The participants have considerable opportunities to influence the content of the activities.
  • Folkbildning is characterised by an environment in which learning and social interaction go hand in hand. The circumstances and experiences of every participant are taken into account.
  • Folkbildning contributes to strengthening civil society through close co-operation with volunteer organisations, associations and various types of networks.


10 study associations

In Sweden there are currently 10 study associations to which the Swedish National Council of Adult Education distributes grants. The study associations have different profiles and emphases in their activities. There are close connections between the study associations and the Swedish popular movements, such as disabled, immigrant or environmental organisations. The study associations are located throughout Sweden.

The study circle is the most important form of study in the study associations. In the study circle, a small group meets to learn together based on a plan of study and with a study circle leader. There are study circles in hundreds of different subjects. Some have a more theoretical emphasis, such as language, history and studies in current social issues. Others are more practically oriented, such as dance, woodworking, instrumental music and so forth.

The study associations are also Sweden’s largest arranger of cultural events. By arranging cultural events and lectures, the study associations contribute to a rich cultural life throughout the country.


150 folk high schools

Sweden’s current 150 folk high schools are spread throughout the country. Folk high schools offer courses for adults from the age of 18. Many folk high schools are run by popular
movements, such as organisations within the workers’, temperance or Free Church movements. Others are operated by county councils or regions. The schools have different
profiles and emphases in their activities. The folk high schools are not guided by national curricula, but instead are free to shape their activities on their own.

The length of the courses varies from a few days up to several years. The long-term courses are generally 1-3 years, some of which can provide knowledge equivalent to upper secondary school and thereby also qualify participants for university studies. Many long-term courses have a special emphasis – music, media, keep-fit measures, tourism and so forth. A few are vocational, such as the youth recreation leader and journalist training programmes. Short courses are offered in a number of different subjects and emphases.

Tuition at folk high schools is characterised by process-oriented pedagogy, in which active participation by the students is emphasized, such as in the form of theme and project work in small groups. Many adults apply to folk high schools and therefore considerable weight is placed on taking advantage of their previous experiences and using their needs as a basis of

Many folk high schools are boarding schools, which allow students to live at the school during the course. Tuition is free-of-charge and students can apply for financial aid for their


Public support for folkbildning

Swedish folkbildning is largely financed through funding grants from the state, county councils and municipalities. There is a broad political consensus that the state should provide
economic support to folkbildning.

The Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) has established overall objectives for the activities. They can be summarised such that the activities of folkbildning shall:

  • strengthen and develop democracy,
  • make it possible for people to influence their life situation and create participative involvement in societal development,
  • bridge educational gaps and raise the level of education and cultural awareness in society,
  • broaden the interest for and increase participation in cultural life.

Based on these objectives, the study associations and folk high schools are free to shape thegoals of the activities on their own.

In 2006, a unanimous Riksdag decided on the folkbildning policy of the future. Seven activity areas were emphasized as motives for state support of folk high schools and study
associations. This applies to efforts to protect society’s common fundamental values, the challenges of a multicultural society and the demographic challenge of increasing numbers of elderly, and where the possibilities of life-long learning must be maintained. Furthermore, the importance of cultural activities is emphasized, as well as the significance of reaching people with disabilities. Lastly, support for folkbildning is motivated by the meaningful efforts in public health and for sustainable development and global justice, pursued in the study associations and folk high schools.


The Swedish National Council of Adult Education

The Swedish National Council of Adult Education has been charged by the Government and Riksdag of Sweden to distribute the national grants to folk high schools and study
associations. Furthermore, the council shall follow up and evaluate the activities of folkbildning.

The Swedish National Council of Adult Education has three members, all of which have close ties to study associations and folk high schools. These are:

  • The Swedish National Federation of Study Associations – an interest association for the study associations.
  • The Interest Organisation of Popular Movement Folk High Schools, RIO – which gathers the folk high schools operated by popular movements and other organisations.
  • The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, SKL – which represents the folk high schools operated by county councils and regions.

Current figures on folkbildning (2008)

Every year, the study associations arrange:

  • Approximately 285,000 study circles with a total of almost 2 million participants
  • Approximately 250,000 cultural programmes with more than 15 million participants

Every term, the folk high schools have:

  • Approximately 26,500 participants in extended courses
  • Approximately 80,000 participants in short courses

Public grants to folk high schools and study associations in 2008:

  • From the state: approximately EUR 328,565,000
  • From county councils: approximately EUR 82,496,000
  • From municipalities: approximately EUR 42,517,000



More information is available on the Internet:

  • The Swedish National Council of Adult Education, with information about folkbildning in general, including information in English and other languages: www.folkbildning.se
  • The Information Service of the Folk high (FIN), with information about the courses offered by all folk high schools and links to their websites: www.folkhogskola.nu
  • The Folkbildning Net, a common digital conference and e-mail system for all of folkbildning, which is used for flexible learning: www.folkbildning.net
  • The Folkbildning Net’s pedagogical resources, with links to websites, articles, study materials, project descriptions, multimedia, etc. within life-long learning: www.resurs.folkbildning.net
  • The Swedish National Federation of Study Associations, an interest association for the study associations, with links to the respective study associations:  www.studieforbunden.se
  • The Interest Organisation of Popular movement Folk High Schools (RIO) which represents the folk high schools operated by popular movements and other organisations:
  • The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL), operators’ association for the folk high schools operated by county councils or regions: www.skl.se

Download:  Folkbildning in Sweden as a pdf document


Swedish Folkhighschool


Swedish Folk High School

  • A part in the swedish education system
  • 154 Folk high schools in Sweden
  • As an adult you can catch up elementary school, Upper secondary school and qualify for higher education
  • The education is based on the students’ needs, previous knowledge and experience
  • Independent
  • Free of charge
  • 18 year old and more
  • General Courses
  • Special Courses
  • Vocational Courses


Medlefors Folk High School

  • Folk high school courses since 1949
  • Today around 60 employees
  • Owners; the association of Norrlands labour movement
  • About 300 students on long term courses
  • General Courses
  • Profile: Health, wellness and Working environment
  • Special Courses
  • Lifelong learning – senior students (< age of 65)
  • Short courses eg. for members of the trade unions
  • Summer courses

Download:  Swedish Folkhighschool  as a pdf document (presentation)