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The Normal School

Minot State Normal School Courses

Click the image to be taken to the complete list of the courses of study, found in the First Annual Catalogue of the State Normal School at Minot, North Dakota, for 1913-14.

Normal schools were intended for one purpose – the training of individuals for careers as teachers. Normal schools prepared students with standard curriculum, dictated by the state, that was designed to provide rural and public school systems with qualified and competent educators. MSNS, for example, initially offered five courses of curriculum:

  1. Rural School Course

  2. Four-Year Elementary Course

  3. One-Year Elementary Course for High School Graduates

  4. Five-Year Advanced Course for Eighth Grade Graduates

  5. Two-Year Advanced Course for High School Graduates. 

Each of these courses of study covered a similar range of basic subject classes such as Grammar, Arithmetic, Elementary Agriculture, in addition to classes related to teaching, but the five courses of study led to three separate degrees of certification:

Rural School Course

  • Completion qualified an individual for a Second Grade Elementary certificate

  • Certificate was valid for two years in any county in the state

  • Certificate allowed the holder to teach in any elementary school (through grade 8)

Four-Year Elementary Course and One-Year Elementary Course for High School Graduates

  • Completion of either of these courses granted a Second Grade Professional certificate

  • Certificate was valid for two years

  • After nine months of teaching experience, certificate renewable for a five-year period

  • After five years, further renewal was at the discretion of the state board of education

  • Allowed the holder to teach in all public schools, other than high school departments

Five-Year Advanced Course for Eighth Grade Graduates and Two-Year Advanced Course for High School Graduates

  • Completion of either of these courses also granted a Second Grade Professional certificate

  • Certificate was valid for two years

  • After nine months of teaching experience, certificate valid for life

  • Allowed the holder to teach in all public schools, other than high school departments

To teach at the high school level, a bachelor's degree from a university was required

 

 

Minot State Normal School Model School Students and Teachers

Beyond the content course curriculum provided, direct training in the Model School provided MSNS students with the experience they needed.

Thus, the normal school's role was to provide teachers for the common schools (up to the eighth grade), laying the very earliest foundations of education. Today it seems very commonplace and natural that care would be taken to ensure the quality of teacher preparation and standardized education in lower schools. Such educational standards were not always the accepted norm, however.

Education legislation first appeared in eastern states in the decades before the Civil War.  The territorial legislature of Dakota enacted some pieces of legislation concerning education, but this issue became more important in the period after the state of North Dakota was admitted to the Union in 1889.  Coincidentally, during this same period the ideology of Progressivism also began to emerge in North Dakota, providing a new urgency for legislation aimed at educational reform.