A normal school is a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers. Its purpose is to establish teaching standards or norms, hence its name. Most such schools are now called teachers' colleges; however, in some places the term normal school is still used.
In 1685, John Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, founded what is generally considered the first normal school, the École Normale, in Reims. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, normal schools in the United States and Canada trained primary school teachers, while in Europe normal schools educated primary, secondary and tertiary-level teachers.
In 1834, the first teacher training college was established in Jamaica by Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton under terms set out by Lady Mico's Charity "to afford the benefit of education and training to the black and coloured population." Mico Training College (now Mico University College) is considered the oldest teacher training institute in the Western Hemisphere and the English-speaking world.
The first public normal school in the United States was founded in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1839. It operates today as Framingham State University. In the United States teacher colleges or normal schools began to call themselves universities beginning in the 1960s. For instance, Southern Illinois University was formerly known as Southern Illinois Normal College. The university, now a system with two campuses that enroll more than 34,000 students, has its own university press but still issues most of its bachelor degrees in education. Similarly, the town of Normal, Illinois, takes its name from the former name of Illinois State University.
Many famous state universities, such as the University of California, Los Angeles, were founded as normal schools. In Canada such institutions were typically assimilated by a university as their Faculty of Education offering a one- or two-year Bachelor of Education program. It requires at least three (usually four) years of prior undergraduate studies.
The term "normal school" originated in the early 16th century from the French école normale. The French concept of an "école normale" was to provide a model school with model classrooms to teach model teaching practices to its student teachers. The children being taught, their teachers, and the teachers of the teachers were often together in the same building. Although a laboratory school, it was the official school for the children—primary or secondary.
In Europe 
In Finland, normal schools are under national university administration, whereas most schools are administered by the local municipality. Teacher aspirants do most of their compulsory trainee period in normal schools and teach while being supervised by a senior teacher.
In France, a two-tier system developed since the Revolution: primary school teachers were educated at départemental écoles normales, high school teachers at the Écoles normales supérieures. Nowadays all teachers are educated in instituts universitaires de formation des maîtres. The Écoles Normales Supérieures in France and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa no longer specialize in teacher training.
In the United Kingdom, teacher training colleges were once separate institutions. The University of Chester traces its roots back to 1839 as the earliest training college in the United Kingdom. Others were established by religious institutions and were single-sex until World War II. Since then, they have either become multi-discipline universities in their own right (e.g. University of Chester, Edge Hill University) or merged with another university to become its faculty of education (e.g. Moray House).
In Asia 
The terminology is still preserved in the official translations of such schools in China since the early 20th century, Beijing Normal University being the first. A Chinese normal university (Chinese: 師範大學; pinyin: shīfàn dàxué, abbreviated 師大; shīdà) is usually controlled by the national or provincial government.
In Taiwan, the three national normal universities (located in Taipei, Changhua, and Kaohsiung) prepared secondary school teachers (although they have become de facto liberal arts universities in the late 20th century). There were also about ten Taiwanese provincial teachers' colleges (Chinese: 師範學院; pinyin: shīfàn xuéyuàn, abbreviated 師院; shīyuàn, literally "normal colleges") that originated as normal schools established by the Japanese. After the retrocession of the island, they were renamed provincial normal schools before becoming provincial teachers' colleges. In the early 1990s, these teachers' colleges came under national control and by the mid-2000s (decade) were all renamed "universities of education" (教育大學) or simply "universities" to signify their comprehensive training.
In Naga City, the Philippines, one can find the oldest normal school for girls in the Far East, the Universidad de Santa Isabel. It is a sectarian school run by the Daughters of Charity. The first secular normal school was founded in 1901 by the Thomasites, the Philippine Normal School. It was converted into a college in 1949 and was elevated to its present university status in 1992 as the Philippine Normal University, . In 2009, it was named National Center of Excellence for Teacher Education by virtue of Republic Act 9647.
In Malaysia, the Ministry of Education (Malaysia) runs a total of 27 Institutes of Teacher Education (ITEs), which were formerly known as Teacher Training Colleges. These ITEs function primarily to educated both undergraduate and postgraduate teacher trainees. The ministry's bureau responsible to oversea the ITEs is the Teacher Education Division. The ITEs also run in-service teacher training and continuous professional development among qualified teachers.
In Oceania 
In New Zealand the term normal school can refer to a primary or intermediate school used for teacher training, e.g. Epsom Normal Primary School (in Auckland), Kelburn Normal School, Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School, Papakura Normal School or Tahuna Normal Intermediate School. They were associated with a Teachers' Training College, e.g. the Auckland Teachers' Training College; but they were renamed e.g. as the Auckland College of Education which is now a university faculty and trains secondary as well as primary and intermediate school teachers.
In North America 
Mico University College, Kingston, Jamaica 
Mico University College is the oldest teacher training institute outside of Europe and in the English-speaking world. It was founded under Lady Mico Charity in 1834 by Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton "to afford the benefit of education and training to the black and coloured population." Today, it offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of education and liberal arts disciplines.
Provincial Normal School, New Brunswick, Canada 
The New Brunswick Teachers' College was a normal school in Fredericton, New Brunswick which granted teaching certificates. It was founded on February 10, 1848 as the Provincial Normal School with Joseph Marshall de Brett Maréchal, Baron d'Avray as the first principal. The institution changed its name in 1947 to become the New Brunswick Teachers' College. It closed in 1973 and its staff were integrated into the faculties of education at the Université de Moncton and the University of New Brunswick.
Florence Normal School, North Alabama 
Florence Normal School is one of many state normal schools that developed into four-year state teachers colleges and eventually into comprehensive state universities. This is the site of the first state-supported normal school established south of the Ohio River and now part of the University of North Alabama, an historic marker commemorating Florence State Teacher's College in the United States, now the University of North Alabama, the oldest state-supported teachers' college south of the Ohio River.
Columbian School in Concord, Vermont 
In 1823, the Columbian School, the first normal school in the United States, was founded in Concord, Vermont by the Reverend Samuel Read Hall. Influenced by similar academies in Prussia and elsewhere in Europe, American normal schools were intended to improve the quality of the burgeoning common school system by producing more qualified teachers.
Framingham State University, Lexington, Massachusetts 
Sixteen years later the first state-funded normal school was founded in Lexington, Massachusetts, thanks largely to the efforts of education reformers such as Horace Mann and James G. Carter. Shortly after its founding that school moved to Framingham, Massachusetts. Today, Framingham State University is recognized as the oldest, continuously operated public normal school in the United States.
Rhode Island State Normal School 
When the college was established in 1854 as the Rhode Island State Normal School, its goal was to provide teacher preparation to young people from Rhode Island. With the dedication of a new building in 1898, the institution began a period of steady growth, evolving first into a teachers' college, the Rhode Island College of Education. In the 1958-59 academic year the college moved to its current Mount Pleasant campus, and in 1959 was renamed Rhode Island College to reflect its new purpose as a comprehensive institution of higher education. With an enrollment predominantly from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut, the institution historically has served as a "College of Opportunity" for first-generation college students.
West of the Appalachians 
The first normal school west of the Appalachian Mountains in the United States was the Michigan State Normal School, now Eastern Michigan University. It was created by legislative action in 1849 and opened in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1853.
The Lowry Normal School Bill of 1910 authorized two new normal schools in Ohio—one in the northwestern part of the state (now Bowling Green State University) and another in the northeastern part (now Kent State University).
Illinois State Normal University 
The State of Illinois passed an act to establish a normal school on 18 February 1857, and proposals were submitted to locate the new school in Batavia, Bloomington, Peoria, and Washington (in Tazewell County). Bids were opened by the State Board of Education in Peoria on 7 May 1857 and the offer from Bloomington, Illinois, was accepted. The normal school was located near the village of North Bloomington, which later was renamed Normal in honor of the school. The school, originally known as Illinois State Normal University (ISNU), is now known as Illinois State University.
West of the Mississippi River 
Winona State Normal School 
The first state-authorized normal college to open west of the Mississippi River was Winona State Normal School, now called Winona State University. Opening in 1858, its creation was one of the first acts of the newly formed Minnesota Legislature.
Sam Houston Normal Institute 
Louisiana State Normal 
From its founding in 1884 until 1944, Northwestern State University of Louisiana at Natchitoches was the Louisiana State Normal (Louisiana State Normal School until 1918, Louisiana State Normal College from 1918 to 1944).
Croatan Normal School 
California State Normal School 
Finally, the first state-run normal school on the West Coast was the Minns Evening Normal School, created in 1857 to train teachers for San Francisco's schools. It was taken over by the State of California in 1862 and became the California State Normal School (now San Jose State University).
Western State College of Colorado 
State Senator A. M. Stevenson, Colorado, 1885 introduced a bill for a State Normal School. The bill was rejected. The bill revived in 1896. State Representative C. T. Rawalt succeeded in appropriating 2500 dollars for land in 1901. Gov. James B. Orman approved the bill April 16, 1901. Trustees were elected and plans made in Gunnison, Colorado in the northeast part of town. Grounds were surveyed and fenced, shade trees added, drives laid out, and the lawns seeded. 12 cents remained of the 2500 dollars allotted. In 1903 a bill for 18,000 dollars for maintenance was vetoed by Gov. J. H. Peabody. May 5, 1909, 50,000 dollars was appropriated. October 25, 1910 the cornerstone of North Hall was laid for the State Normal School of Colorado. The first class of 24 students opened in September 1911 under the aegis of Greeley College. C. A. Hollingshead was principal of the two year normal advanced and four year normal elementary (High school). In 1916 the name was changed to Western State College of Colorado. August 1, 2012, John Hickenlooper enacted the new name Western State Colorado University.
In Latin America 
Early normal schools in Latin America include several in Mexico, such as the Escuela Normal de Enseñanza Mutua de Oaxaca (1824), the Escuela Normal Mixta de San Luis Potosí (1849), the Normal de Guadalajara (1881), and the Escuela Normal para Profesores de Instrucción Primaria (1887). The Mexican normal school system was nationalized and reorganized by the Secretaría de Educación Pública (Secretariat of Public Education) under José Vasconcelos in 1921.
Perhaps the oldest continually operating normal school in Latin America is the Escuela Normal Superior José Abelardo Núñez, founded in Santiago, Chile, in 1842 as the Escuela de Preceptores de Santiago under the direction of the emininent Argentine educator, writer, and politician Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. The first normal school in the Dominican Republic was founded in 1875 by Puerto Rican educator and activist Eugenio María de Hostos. In Argentina, normal schools were founded starting in 1852, and still exist today and carry that name. Teachers training is considered higher education and required a high school diploma, but normal schools have the particularity of granting four year teacher degrees while at the same time hosting secondary and primary school students (and sometimes kindergarten and pre-school). Teachers-to-be do intense practical training in the schools annexed to the higher education section.
Other Latin American nations have long traditions of normal schools. In Panama, the Escuela Normal Juan Demóstenes Arosemena was founded in Santiago de Veraguas, Panama in 1938. In Colombia, normal schools were primarily associated with women's religious schools although in modern times have admitted men, thus forming escuelas normales mixtas (mixed normal schools). In Paraguay, they are known as Instituto de Formación Docente.
See also 
- "Oxford English Dictionary". Retrieved 2007-12-11.
- Fussell, Paul (1983) Class: A Guide through the American Status System. New York: Touchstone.
- Reginald Edwards (Fall 1991). "Theory, History, and Practice of Education: Fin de siècle and a new beginning". McGill Journal of Education 26 (3).)
- "école normale". Retrieved 2007-12-11.
- Samuel Read Hall Biography at the Old Stone House Museum website, Retrieved on 2009-07-03
- Normal Schools - History of American Education Web Project, Retrieved on 2007-03-08.
- Eastern Michigan University. "A Brief History of EMU". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
- Photo of Archibald M. Stevenson Retrieved Aug. 20, 2012
- Representative in the House of the State of Colorado
- The University of Northern Colorado opened on October 6, 1890, as the Colorado State Normal School to train qualified teachers for the state's public schools, with a staff of four instructors and 96 students, offering certification after completing a two-year course.
- Charles This ref links to an earlier generation of Hollingshead.
- Wallace, Betty. History with the Hide Off. Denver: Sage Books, 1963. The Western Slope acquires a college.