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Page 17 text:
TI-IE FIRST THREE NORMAL SCIFIOOLS
The State Normal School at Bridgewater, or Westfield, or Framingham, has a few acres
of tidy campus, a family of brick buildings, and a helter-skelter of sport shoes, sweaters, and
berets of future school teachers. VVhat is the reason for this school? VVhose were the minds
that fashioned the actuality out of dreams and made it possible for Massachusetts to have
trained teachers for its public schools?
james G. Carter, fired by memories of colonial ideals of common education and visions
of American normal schools, fought fifteen years for their establishment before he aroused
the public consciousness to the deficiency of the existing corps of teachers. Harassed school
committees, searching for competent teachers, offered increases in salary for a higher quality
of service, but in vain, because there were not enough capable teachers to supply the demands
of Massachusetts' thirty thousand common schools. Thousands of children every year
were exposed to the experiments of novices who were making their first attempt to teach, or
to the indifference of college students who were trying to bolster their finances, or to the
ignorance of mechanics who were temporarily out of work and who were "filling in" by teach-
ing. In view of the threefold development of the competent teacher, who has a firm grasp
of subject matter, a knowledge of the art of teaching, and practice in government, what
must have happened in some of those schools when the pseudo-teachers each attempted to
govern a group of forty children, conduct several lessons consecutively, and attend to all
the hair-pulling and broken pens?
As a result of this newly awakened teacher-consciousness came an offer from Edmund
Dwight to contribute ten thousand dollars for the establishment of a Normal School if the
legislature would add as much more to that sum. The offer was accepted and in 1838 re-
solves were passed which authorized the building of a normal school. In order that the
state as a whole might benefit from the project and judge its worth, it was decided to build
three schools which would be continued three years as an experiment and made permanent
if they proved of worth. On the third of july, 1839, the first normal school was opened at
Lexington with three pupils. This school was removed to West Newton in 1844, and later
to Framingham. The second normal school was opened at Barre in 1839 and later removed
to Westfield. The third school was opened at Bridgewater in 1840 and has since continued
The procedure of the first normal schools was definitely planned and, so thorough were
our fathers, it has not been changed since. First, the students received their knowledge of
the subjects that must be taughtg second, they investigated teaching with a view to finding
the most effective way of simplifying subject matter so that children could understand it,
third, they studied school government, and, fourth, they practiced these principles in a
Cyrus Pierce, first principal at Lexington, said, 'fl was desirous of putting our schools
into the hands of those who would make them places in which children could learn, not only
to read, write, spell, and cipher, but could gain information in various other topics, and have
all their highest formation of character." This ideal of service, "Not to be ministered unto,
but to minister," is the reason for the existence of our first three normal schools and the
secret of their vitality.
Page 16 text:
FIRST STATE NORMAL SCHOOL BUILDING IN AMERICA
dicated in 1846
Page 18 text:
STATE NORMAL SCHOOL AT BRIDGEWATER
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