Teacher Education: Breathing “The Ozone of Teaching”

  • Christine A. Ogren


The status of teaching in the professional culture that took hold and dominated American middle-class society by the 1870s was ambiguous. The requisite professional associations, advanced studies, and licensing requirements appeared in the field, yet education leaders and the public were unwilling to grant teachers autonomy or authority. Historians of teacher education traditionally have attributed teachers’ problematic professional status mainly to a failure on the part of the normal schools to balance liberal and technical elements in teacher education; according to Merle Borrowman, “an excessively technical concept of the professional sequence” caused the normals to instruct future teachers in little more than “tricks of the trade.” Jurgen Herbst argues that by the late nineteenth century normal schools abandoned the cause of professionalizing elementary-school teaching and instead helped administrators to become “the professionals in public education.”1 Such analyses, however, sell short the normal schools of the 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, and 1900s. They prepared students for a vocation with a long history of ignominy, the most recent development in which had been the arrival of large numbers of women. The work of historians who examine the professions and teaching through the lens of gender suggests that larger social structures, norms, and expectations overshadowed anything the normal schools were or were not doing in preparing teachers.


Student Teacher Future Teacher Rural School Normal School School Management 
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4 Teacher Education: Breathing “The Ozone of Teaching”

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© Christine A. Ogren 2005

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  • Christine A. Ogren

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