Bridgewater State University - Alpha Yearbook (Bridgewater, MA)

 - Class of 1931

Page 17 of 180

 

Bridgewater State University - Alpha Yearbook (Bridgewater, MA) online yearbook collection, 1931 Edition, Page 17
Page 17



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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 there. 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 model school. 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. DoRoTHY WHITE

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