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Elementary School Teachers

History

The history of elementary education can be traced back to about 100 B.C., when the people of Judah (an area that made up a portion of modern-day Israel) established schools for young children as part of their religious training.

In the early days of Western elementary education, the teacher only had to have completed elementary school to be considered qualified to teach. There was little incentive for an elementary school teacher to seek further education. School terms were generally short (about six months) and buildings were often cramped and poorly heated and cooled. Many elementary schools combined the entire eight grades into one room, teaching the same course of study for all ages. In these earliest schools, teachers were not well paid and had little status or recognition in the community.

When people began to realize that teachers should be better educated, schools designed to train teachers, called normal schools, were established. The first normal school was private and opened in Concord, Vermont, in 1823. The first state-supported normal school was established in Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1839. By 1900, nearly every state had at least one state-supported normal school.

The forerunner of the present-day college or school of education in large universities was the normal department established at Indiana University in 1852. Normal schools have since then given way to teachers' colleges and today almost every university in the country has a school or college of education.