In their book The Nordic Secret: A European Story of Beauty and Freedom, co-authors Lene Andersen and Tomas Björkman describe how the European Nordic countries moved from extreme poverty at the end of the 19th century to become nations that are nowadays considered to be wealthy and thriving. Holistic education, a unique set of modern values as well as cooperatives contributed to the personal development of individuals and thus to the wellbeing of society at large.
According to the authors the beginning of this change dates back to the 1860s when the Danish Folk High School was founded. Its learning model was holistic: head, heart, and hand were trained. The society at large benefitted from this holistic education system, as it supported the development of the individual human potential. Their approach was largely influenced by German philosophers such as Goethe, Schiller and Fichte, whose work also influenced Rudolf Steiner, who initiated the Waldorf/Steiner school movement in 1919. The model of the Folk High School was made available on a wide scale and soon it was adopted in Sweden, Norway and later on in Finland.