A normal school was a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers by educating them in the norms of pedagogy and curriculum. Most such schools, where they still exist, are now denominated "teachers' colleges". According to the Oxford English Dictionary, normal schools in the United States and Canada trained teachers for primary schools, while in continental Europe normal schools educated teachers for primary, secondary and tertiary schools.
In 1685, St. Jean-Baptiste 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, Champagne, France. The term "normal" herein refers to the goal of these institutions to instill and reinforce particular norms within students. Such a project was critical given the exigencies of the new industrialized economy of the time and, its need for a reliable, reproducible and uniform work force. Norms included historically specific behavioral norms of the time, as well as norms that reinforced targeted societal values, ideologies and dominant narratives in the form of curriculum. The process of instating such norms within students depended upon the first uniform, formalized national educational curriculum. "Normal schools," as teacher training schools, were tasked with both developing this new curriculum and, developing the techniques through which teachers would instill these ideas, behaviors and values in the minds of their students.
The first public normal school in the United States was founded in Concord, Vermont, by Samuel Read Hall in 1823 to train teachers. In 1839, another normal school was established in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; it evolved into Framingham State University. Many, now comprehensive, state universities, such as the University of California, Los Angeles, were founded as normal schools. In Canada, such institutions were typically eventually assimilated by a university as the latter's Faculty of Education, offering a one- or two-year Bachelor of Education degree. It requires at least three, but usually four, years of prior undergraduate study.
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 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 École supérieure du professorat et de l'éducation (Graduate School of Teaching and Education). The Écoles Normales Supérieures in France and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa in Italy 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 Wales, there were two colleges which included the word 'Normal' in their name: the first being 'The Normal College, Swansea' where the eminent mathematician John Viriamu Jones was educated and the second was The Normal College, Bangor (founded 1858), which survived until 1996, when it became part of University of Wales Bangor. The latter was one of the last institutions to retain the word "Normal" in its name.
In Lithuania, Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (LEU), former Vilnius Pedagogical University (VPU) is the main teachers' training institution, established in 1935.
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: 师范大学; pinyin: shīfàn dàxué, abbreviated 师大; shīdà) referred to an institution that aimed to train school teachers in the early twentieth century, but more recently many former normal universities in China have spontaneously developed into comprehensive universities. The normal universities are usually controlled by the national or provincial government. East China Normal University in Shanghai, along with Beijing Normal University, which are selected as "985 universities" by the Chinese Central Government in order to build world-class universities, are usually considered to be the top two universities of this kind in mainland China.
In Taiwan, the three national normal universities (located in Taipei, Changhua, and Kaohsiung) prepared secondary school teachers (although in the late 20th century they have become de facto liberal arts universities). There were also about ten Taiwanese provincial teachers' colleges (Chinese: 師範學院; pinyin: shīfàn xuéyuàn, abbreviated 師院; shīyuàn, "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 Iloilo City, The West Visayas State University was originally established as a Normal School in 1902 and in 1994, it was recognized as one of the Philippines' Center for Teaching Excellence.
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 bureau responsible for overseeing them is the Teacher Education Division. The ITEs also run in-service teacher training and continuous professional development among qualified teachers.
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.
Mico University College, Kingston, Jamaica
Mico University College is the oldest teacher training institute outside 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.
1823 - Columbian School in Concord, Vermont
In 1823, Reverend Samuel Read Hall founded the first normal school in the United States, the Columbian School in Concord, Vermont. 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. Hall also founded the first normal schools in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The school was renamed Concord Academy before closing after seven years.
1839 - Framingham State University, Lexington, Massachusetts
Sixteen years after Columbian School had been founded in Vermont, the first state-funded normal school was founded in the neighboring state of Massachusetts, thanks largely to the efforts of education reformers such as Horace Mann and James G. Carter. Shortly after its founding that school moved from its original site of Lexington to Framingham. Today, Framingham State University is recognized as the oldest, continuously operated public normal school in the United States. Anna Brackett attended this University and was a teacher - later to become the first woman principal of a teacher's college.
1849 - State Normal School, New Britain, Connecticut
The State Normal School in New Britain was founded in 1849. It was the first training school for teachers in the state of Connecticut. The school is now Central Connecticut State University.
1853 - Michigan State Normal School
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.
1854 - 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.
1854 - Salem Normal School, Salem, Massachusetts
Salem Normal School, now Salem State University, was founded in 1854 as the fourth Normal School in Massachusetts. It was established as a result of the Newton Normal School's relocation. Salem was selected due to many factors including the city's historical and commercial significance and need for local teacher education.
Prior to Salem Normal School's relocation to Salem, Salem women had few opportunities to receive teacher training and the Salem school system was replete with funding, attendance, and teacher compensation problems. It was assumed that by training women as teachers, they could be hired at a lower salary than male teachers, thus alleviating the city's public school budget and teacher compensation challenges.
The original location was at the corner of Broad and Summer Streets, with the building's dedication held on September 14, 1854. Richard Edwards, a graduate of Bridgewater Normal School (now Bridgewater State University), was the first president of Salem Normal School.
1857 - 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.
1857 - West of the Mississippi River
1857 - California State Normal School
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).
1858 - 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, which opened in 1858. Its creation was one of the first acts of the newly formed Minnesota Legislature.
1861 - Oswego Primary Teachers School, Oswego, New York
Established as Oswego Normal School, the Oswego State Normal School was founded by Edward Austin Sheldon, and recognized as a state school in 1866 by New York State becoming the Oswego State Normal and Training School. The school was part of the training program Sheldon devised to introduce the Pestalozzi method of education to the schools of the city of Oswego, the first time the method had ever been used in the United States. Sheldon's school became Oswego State Teachers College in 1942, and was upgraded again to a liberal arts college in 1962, becoming known as Oswego State University.
1864 - Farmington State Normal School, Farmington, Maine
Established in 1864, Farmington State Normal School was the first public establishment of higher education in the state of Maine. In 1945, the school was renamed "Farmington State Teachers College". The Farmington State Teachers College was acquired by the University of Maine system in 1968 and is today the University of Maine at Farmington.
1868 - Mankato Normal School, Minnesota
Mankato Normal School was the second normal school in Minnesota. Students were usually 17-19 years old when they entered. The student body, which peaked at about 900 in 1920-21, was approximately three-fourths female. In 1921 the school evolved into Minnesota State University, Mankato
1872 - 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.
1873 - State Normal School, Normal, Alabama
In 1873, the State Normal School and University for the Education of the Colored Teachers and Students, informally called the Huntsville Normal School, was founded at a site which is today part of Huntsville, Alabama. In 1878, the name changed to State Normal and Industrial School. In 1885 the name was changed again, to State Normal and Industrial School of Huntsville. In 1890, the post office of Normal, Alabama was established. In 1896, its name was changed to The State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, and in 1919, the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute for Negroes. In 1948 it was renamed the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College, in 1949 Alabama A&M College, and in 1969 Alabama A&M University.
1876 - Iowa State Normal School
Opened as Iowa State Normal School in 1876, the school took over the facilities that the state of Iowa originally built to be home to orphans of its Civil War Veterans. The school changed to Iowa State Teachers College in 1909, then State College of Iowa in 1961 before becoming the University of Northern Iowa in 1967.
1879 - Sam Houston Normal Institute
1884 - Louisiana State Normal
1855 - Millersville Normal School, Millersville, Pennsylvania
Millersville Normal School was founded in 1855 as the first normal school in Pennsylvania. Over the years it has changed its name a number of times eventually becoming Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
1887 - Croatan Normal School
1887 - State Normal College for Colored Students, Tallahassee, Florida
In 1887, the State Normal College for Colored Students was founded in Tallahassee, Florida; Tallahassee was chosen because it had the state's highest proportion of blacks, having been the center of Florida's slave trade before the Civil War. The founding date reflects the Florida Constitution of 1885, in effect until 1967, which prohibed racial integration in education. In 1891 the legislature changed its name to State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students, and in 1909 to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. Today it is the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, commonly known as FAMU.
1890 - Colorado State Normal School
The Colorado legislature passed the controversial Senate Bill 104 to establish the Colorado State Normal School, which Governor Job. A Cooper signed into law on April 1, 1889. Located in Greeley, Colorado, the school opened on October 6, 1890 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. In 1911, the school's name was changed to Colorado State Teachers College and offered bachelor's degrees after completion of a four-year course. In 1935, the name changed again to Colorado State College of Education, recognizing the graduate program started in 1913. In 1957, the name was shortened to Colorado State College to recognize the further growth of programs and offerings. Finally, in 1970, the name was changed to the current University of Northern Colorado, with satellite centers in Loveland, Colorado Springs and the Lowry neighborhood of Denver.
1899 - Appalachian State Normal School, Boone, NC
A normal school founded as Watauga Academy in 1899, the institution was named Appalachian State Normal School in between 1925 and 1929. Today, it is known as Appalachian State University and has evolved into a comprehensive four-year university, including the Reich College of Education. For details, see History of Appalachian State University.
1910 - Ohio
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).
1910 - 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. 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.
Calgary Normal School, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Initially located at 412 - 7 Street SW in Calgary in what is called the McDougall School founded shortly after Alberta became a province in 1905. Its history is part of the founding of the University of Calgary in 1966. Another Normal school was founded at Camrose (also called Rosehaven Normal school) in 1912.
Edmonton Normal School, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Edmonton Normal School was opened in 1920 in Edmonton, Alberta. In 1945 all normal schools in Alberta were merged into the University of Alberta's faculty of education.
Provincial Normal School, Vancouver, British Columbia
In 1901 the first Provincial Normal School in British Columbia was opened in Vancouver. Classes commenced on 9 January 1901. In January 1909, the Provincial Normal school moved into a new facility and its own building located at 11th and Cambie (now part of City Square Mall). In 1915 a second Provincial Normal School opened in Victoria. Trainee teachers from greater Vancouver and the lower Mainland attended the Normal School in Vancouver. Students from Vancouver Island and students outside the Lower Mainland, that is, from the Upper Fraser Valley and communities in the interior of the province – enrolled in the Normal School in Victoria. That school was originally located in Victoria High School and later in its own building which is now part of Camosun College. In 1956 the responsibility for provincial teacher training was transferred to The University of British Columbia.
Central Normal School, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Central Normal School was founded in 1882 in Winnipeg. In 1905-06 a new building was constructed at 442 William Avenue. It was one of six Normal Schools in Manitoba, along with Brandon Normal School (1129 Queens Street, Brandon), Dauphin, Manitou, Portage la Prairie, and St. Boniface. Central Normal School moved to a facility in southwest Winnipeg In 1947. In the autumn of 1958, it was renamed the Manitoba Teachers' College. It was moved to the University of Manitoba in 1965, becoming its Faculty of Education.
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.
Wesleyan Normal Day School, St. John's, Newfoundland
Founded in 1852 by the Wesleyans under the Newfoundland School Society. This institution continued until 1901. In 1910 a normal school was established in St. John's by the Church of England which continued for a number of years. In 1921 the first non-denominational normal school was initiated and was discontinued in 1932. It was reorganized in 1934 as a department of the Memorial University College. Later in 1949, the institution's name was changed to Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Nova Scotia Teachers College, Truro, Nova Scotia
In 1855 the Provincial Nova Scotia Normal School was opened in Truro, Nova Scotia. The school was closed in 1997 and the program essentially consolidated with other provincial universities including Acadia University, Mount St. Vincent, St. Francis Xavier, and Sainte-Anne.
Thanks largely in part to the effort of education reformer Egerton Ryerson the Ontario Normal School system came into being beginning in Toronto in 1847.
London Normal School, London, Ontario, Canada
The London Normal School was located at 165 Elmwood Avenue in London, Ontario and commenced classes on February 1, 1900. By 1958 the building was no longer adequate and was moved to a new location on Western Rd. In 1973, London Teacher's College (as it was then called) (Elborn) merged with Althouse College to form the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario.
North Bay Normal School, North Bay, Ontario Canada
North Bay Normal School, a teacher training school, was established in 1909 in North Bay Ontario to meet the needs of teacher education in Ontario's North. The school was renamed North Bay Teachers' College in 1953, and became Nipissing University College's faculty of education in August 1973. After the university received a prestigious award in 2010, the Faculty of Education was renamed the Schulich School of Education. See Nipissing University.
Ontario Normal College, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
A school of pedagogy was formed in association with Toronto Normal School, offering advanced level courses suitable for high-school teachers. In 1897, the school was moved to Hamilton and renamed Ontario Normal College. The college closed in 1906 and the training was taken over by the faculties of education at the University of Toronto and Queen's University in Kingston.
Ottawa Normal School, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The building was built in 1874 and opened in 1875. It was located at 195 Elgin Street. It was renamed the Ottawa Teacher's College in 1953, and was subsequently merged into the Faculty of Education of the University of Ottawa in 1974.
Peterborough Normal School, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Peterborough Normal School was officially opened on September 15, 1908 and operated until the late 1960s.
Stratford Normal School, Stratford, Ontario, Canada
The Stratford Normal School was founded at 270 Water Street in 1908 in Stratford, Ontario. Its emphasis was primarily for training teachers for rural conditions. Its name was changed to Stratford Teachers' College in 1953 and closed its doors in 1973 having trained close to 14,000 teachers. The site was maintained, and was home to the Stratford Perth Museum for a number of years, being renamed the Discovery Centre. The museum moved to another location, however, and the building is now leased by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and has been named once again the Normal School Building.
Toronto Normal School, Toronto, Canada
Prince Edward Island
The Prince Edward Island Normal School has its origin in 1856 on the grounds of Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Regina Normal School, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
The Saskatchewan Normal School was founded as early as 1890 in Regina moving into its first permanent structure in January, 1914. In 1964 it was transferred to University of Saskatchewan Regina Campus and in 1974 becoming part of the University of Regina. Another normal school was founded in the early 1920s in Moose Jaw and was later transferred into the Regina campus in 1959.
Saskatoon Normal School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
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 requires a high school diploma, but normal schools have the particularity of granting five year teacher degrees for primary school or four year degrees for kindergarten, while at the same time hosting secondary, primary school students, and kindergarten and pre-school. Teachers-to-be do intense practical training in the schools annexed to the higher education section. This is the main difference with other teachers' training institutions called Instituto de Formación Docente and with universities that grant teaching degrees.
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.