State normal schools were established in the middle of the nineteenth century to provide standardized and regulated teacher preparation and produce an assemblage of trained educators to meet the needs of a growing “common school” movement. Educational reformers based the ideas of the normal school on the French école normale and the Prussian teacher seminary. The state-supported system of teacher training that Prussia established in 1819 gained worldwide interest, including from reformers in the United States.

Key advocates of the normal schools included Horace Mann, who was appointed the first secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education and worked to assure the success of the common schools and teacher-training institutions. William Channing Woodbridge published information about Prussian teacher education in the American Annals of Education and ...

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