The School of Civic Virtue

Soren's formal education commenced in 1821 when he was enrolled at the Borgerdyd School (School of Civic Virtue), a private school under the tutelage of headmaster Michael Nielsen, who had a reputation as a hard taskmaster.14 As remembered by some of his classmates and relatives, young Soren was somewhat withdrawn yet known for the mischievous teasing and satirical remarks to which he frequently subjected people, earning him the nickname 'the Fork' at home.15 At school he was called 'Choirboy' because of the resemblance of his dress to the outfits worn by choirboys in cathedral schools and 'Soren Sock' for the woollen stockings he wore that were emblematic of his father's occupation as a hosier.16 Although Soren was a diligent and competent student, he did not particularly excel in his schoolwork, generally coming second or third in his class, and apparently he was not above occasionally cheating or 'peeking' as it was called at that time. He was schooled in a wide range of subjects, including history, geography, mathematics, languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Danish, French, and German, but not English), composition, and religion.17

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