“Substantial Branches of Learning” and “A Higher Degree of Culture”: Academic Studies and Intellectual Life

  • Christine A. Ogren


Attending any form of “higher” education was a stretch for the types of students who populated nineteenth-century state normal schools throughout the United States; normalites’ gender, race, or families’ financial struggles in many cases prohibited them from traveling to prestigious high schools, academies, or colleges. Affordable and accessible, normal-school training for teaching was within their reach. Because many students in the latter part of the nineteenth century—like those in the previous decades—arrived with little more than a common-school education, normal-school leaders found it necessary to continue to offer instruction in academic subjects. While this situation frustrated some normal-school principals, others looked upon academic instruction as another means of producing well-prepared teachers, even as increasing numbers of normalites were high-school graduates by the turn of the twentieth century. In 1904, Principal William E. Wilson at the state normal in Ellensburg, Washington advocated educating teachers through “general scholarship and broad culture.” He explained,


Normal School Academic Subject Modern Language Literary Society Normal Advance 
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3 “Substantial Branches of Learning” and “A Higher Degree of Culture”: Academic Studies and Intellectual Life

  1. 1.
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© Christine A. Ogren 2005

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  • Christine A. Ogren

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