16 May Normal Schools
We live on top of James Carter Hill. No not Jimmy Carter. We don’t live in Georgia. (We used to and another story for another day is when my wife rounded a corner and barely missed running over Jimmy Carter’s son.) At the bottom of our hill here in Massachusetts there is a small memorial stone noting this historic place. In 1838 James Carter was responsible for urging the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to pass legislation establishing a normal school. (We wish all the states would have schools as normal as those in Massachusetts since our children rank third, not in the country, but in the world in science and math scores.) However, that is not the use of the word normal in relationship to James Carter. A normal school was a school designed to train teachers. Mr. Carter would be happy to know that two teachers, who used to teach in the Education (Teacher Training) Department at Atlantic Union College and now at Fitchburg State University, reside on his hill.
They were called normal schools from the Latin word “norma” meaning “model.” Model schools were supposed to produce excellent students who became model teachers. Wouldn’t it be grand if “model” was normal? What if all our normal children were model children and all the normal people around us were model neighbors and model citizens. What if all normal church members were model Christians? Alas, that is way too much to hope for. Actually, that’s okay that we are not. We, being normal, are a hodgepodge group of sinners, each at a different stage of development. Just as there is no one size tree in the forest so there is no Christian like another. Variety is indeed the spice of life.
Written by Roger Bothwell on May 29, 2012
PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574