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NORMAL SCHOOLS IN IOWA.
NORMAL DEPARTMENT IN STATE UNIVERSITY.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT. In 1849, while Iowa was a territory, a law was enacted, establishing three Normal Schools, one at Andrews, Jackson County, one at Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, and the third at Mt. Pleasant, Henry County. There was an appropriation of five hundred dollars per annum to each, to be paid from the income of the University fund, which at that time scarcely had more than a nominal existence. Buildings were erected and schools opened at Andrews and Oskaloosa, but they failed to receive the expected assistance from the University fund. The schools languished, died, and in 1855, the appropriation was withdrawn. No effort has since been made to revive them.
On the admission of Iowa into the Union, Congress donated seventy-two sections of land to aid in the establishment of a State University. The law under which the University was subsequently organized, contained a provision that it should annually educate fifty common school teachers; in subsequent acts, this was changed so as to require merely a Normal Department, which is now the law.
The Normal, in common with other departments of the University, opened on the third Wednesday of September, 1855. During the first year, the Normal Department was under the care and instruction of J. Van Valkenburg, Esq., and during that year, there were about seventy different students in attendance; many of whom, however, were quite young and elementary, giving it more the character of a primary, than of a professional school.
In June, 1856, D. Franklin Wells was appointed Mr. Valkenburg's successor, and in September, assumed control of the department. All students not prepared to enter upon a professional course for want of age or attainments, were excluded. After applying this sifting process, only three students were left who entered on the first day of the term. The number gradually increased, and by the close of the year reached forty.
The first class of five graduated June, 1858.
From 1858 to 1860, all the departments of the University were closed except the Normal. For several years it had its own corps of teachers, and was for all practical purposes a Normal School. Those are considered the most successful years of the Normal department. After 1860, the classes of this department were gradually combined with classes in the University when pursuing the same study.
From 1858 to 1864 inclusive, the Normal department included more than half of the students in the University. In the latter year, the Normal students numbered 257. In the same year, the first year of the Normal course was transferred to the Preparatory department, which changed the relative numbers.
From its organization to 1867, upwards of 1,000 teachers received a full or partial course of study and training in the Normal department.
In 1866, after ten years of service, Mr. Wells retired from control of this department, and in 1867, Prof. S. N. Fellows was elected to the place.
In the spring of 1857, a Model School was opened in connection with the department, which was continued until 1866, when it was abolished. It was always very successful, and for the last two years of its existence had two departments and two permanent teachers, one of whom was from the Oswego Training School. In 1865 and '66, the attendance was 190.
The suspension of the Model School, in the opinion of the ablest educators of the State, very seriously impaired the usefulness of the Normal department. Practical training in the art of teaching and governing a school, is considered indispensable to the highest efficiency of Normal instruction in Iowa.
ADMISSION OF STUDENTS.
The requirements for admission, are, that young men must have attained the age of seventeen years, and young ladies that of fifteen years, and all must sustain a satisfactory examination in Reading, Writing, Orthography, English Grammar, Geography, and Practical Arithmetic through fractions. All students are required, on their admission, to give a declaration of their intention to engage in the business of teaching, as follows:
“We, the undersigned, hereby declare that it is our intention to engage in the business of teaching in the schools of Iowa, and that our object in resorting to the Normal Department of the State University, is the better to prepare ourselves for the discharge of this important duty."
Two students from each county, when recommended by the County Superintendent, are received free of charge. Others will be received upon the payment of the incidental fee of five dollars per term.
COURSE OF STUDY.
The course of study includes the common and higher branches of liberal English education, together with lectures on the theory and practice of teaching, method of instruction and graded schools, an examination of the school system of Iowa, and preparation and practice in the use of object lessons.
The members of this department, when pursuing studies taught in other departments of the University, are combined with the classes in those departments. They also share all the advantages of the library, cabinet and apparatus, which are enjoyed by students of the classical and scientific courses.
The following general courses of lectures are open to students in the Normal Department:
English Literature, Intellectual and Moral Philosophy.-President.
The course of instruction occupies two years. A diploma is awarded to those students who complete the required course of study and training, and give satisfactory evidence of the proper qualifications for teaching.
The whole number of students in 1866–7, was:
The results of Normal instruction have been very satisfactory, and it is believed that the Normal department of the University has been an important instrumentality in improving the schools of Iowa. The State Teachers' Association, at its annual meeting in 1867, passed a resolution recommending the establishment of a Normal School in each congressional district.
A committee was also appointed to memorialize the Legislature, and to adopt measures to secure the object contemplated by this resolution.
The chairman of this committee, J. Piper, Superintendent of Schools in Manchester, Iowa, in January, 1868, issued a circular for the purpose of gaining information on the importance of Normal Schools, and their relation to a public school sys
OTHER MEANS FOR EDUCATING TEACHERS.
Iowa College at Grinnell, has an English and Normal Department for preparing teachers for the public schools of the State. Students in this department can recite with classes in other departments by permission of the faculty.
The course of study includes Elocution, Arithmetic, Modern Geography, Ancient and Physical Geography, Grammar, Algebra, Astronomy, Natural Philosophy, Physiology, American and Ancient History, Theory and Practice of Teaching, School Laws of Iowa, and Natural History.
Familiar lectures on the best methods of teaching and school government are delivered by members of the faculty.
The Ladies' Department of this College is under the immediate supervision of a Female Principal, and under the general direction of the faculty. The course of study is designed not only for thorough mental culture, but also for preparing young ladies to teach. The members of this department recite with classes in other departments, when the studies are the same, and have the privilege of attending the lectures.
Training Schools have been established by several of the cities of Iowa. Though these schools were designed primarily to educate and train teachers for the cities in which they are located, they have exerted an important influence upon the schools of other places, and have to a certain extent supplied the place of State Normal Schools.
The school at Davenport, which is one of the oldest and most efficient Training School in the Western States, receives all applicants who are able to pass a creditable examination before the county superintendent.. The teachers trained in this school have gone out to other places in the State, and have introduced improved methods of instruction in many towns and districts which have not been supplied with teachers from the Normal School
A similar work is performed by Training Schools more recently organized in other parts of the State.
Teachers' Institutes have been very successfully maintained in Iowa, and have been so organized and conducted as to afford to young teachers the advantages of a temporary Normal School.
NEW JERSEY STATE NORMAL SCHOOL.
The teachers and educators of New Jersey were among the earliest and most earnest to proclaim the necessity of special preparation for the office of teaching and training the young. Prior to 1825, Philip Lindsley, D. D.. before he removed to Tennessee, and while tutor and acting President of the College of New Jersey, in an address delivered at Princeton, anticipated the utterance which he subsequently repeated in his inauguration as President of the University of Nashville: “Our country needs Seminaries purposely to train up and qualify young men for the profession of teaching We have our theological seminaries, our medical and law schools, which receive the graduates of our colleges and fit them for their respective professions. And whenever the profession of teaching shall be duly honored and appreciated, it is not doubted but that it will receive similar attention and be favored with equal advantages.” in the inaugural address in 1825, also referred to, Dr. Lindsley adds:
“Though the idea perhaps may be novel to some persons, yet the propriety and importance of such a provision will scarcely be questioned by any competent judges. The Seminarium Philologicum of the late celebrated Heyne, at Göttingen, though a private institution in the midst of a great university, furnished to the continent of Europe during a period of nearly half a century, many of its most eminent and successful classical professors and teachers.”
" At present, the great mass of our teachers are mere adventurers-either young men who are looking forward to some less laborious and more respectable vocation, and who, of course, have no ambition to excel in the business of teaching, and no motive to exertion but immediate and temporary relief from pecuniary embarrassment; or men who despair of doing better, or who have failed in other pursuits, or who are wandering from place to place, teaching a year here and a year there, and gathering up what they can from the ignorance and credulity of their employers. That there are many worthy exceptions to this sweeping sentence is cheerfully admitted. That we have some well qualiified and most deserving instructors we are proud to acknowledge—and as large a proportion probably in this section of our country as in the older States. Still the number is comparatively small; and the whole subject demands the most serious attention of the good people of this community.”
In a lecture on the school system of New Jersey, delivered January 23, 1828, in the Chapel of Nassau Hall, Prof. John MacLean (afterwards President) recommended “the establishment of an institution to educate young men for the business of teaching," and in a note examines and refutes the objections to such action on the part of the State.
In 1847, Prof. E. C. Wines, then of Burlington, in behalf of a special committee of a Convention of the Friends of Education held at Mount Holly on the 17th of November of that year, prepared a “Report on Normal Schools,"which was printed by order of the Convention, and widely circulated. This document contains letters from Gov. Seward, Rev. Dr.