In the United States of America, individual and collective efforts in the field of education have always been very significant. The same is true of teacher-education system. Provision for teacher education through private efforts had been made before governmental efforts.
In 1823, fifteen years before any governmental effort, a private Normal School had been established in Vermont. Similarly, in 1827 a Normal School had been established in Lancaster’s in Massachussets State.
Upto the middle of nineteenth century, Normal Schools were established through public efforts. County boards had established Normal Schools for the training of teachers in their respective areas.
Thus before the beginning of the twentieth century, 170 such Normal Schools had been established. All these efforts speak of the interest of the American people for the cause of teacher education.
The establishing of these Normal Schools reflects the influence of European progress and environment but necessary changes in the system has been going on according to American environment and needs.
The following forms of teacher training institutions are available in U.S.A.:
(1) Normal Schools.
(2) Teachers’ Colleges.
(3) School of Education.
(4) Department of Education.
These institutions have been described in detail as below:
(1) Normal Schools:
Expression of teacher education in U.SA has been based on European traditions. ‘Normal’ is a French word which means ‘according to rule’. So Normal Schools are those schools in which ‘Rules of Teaching” are taught.
Here, teacher education had been organised on the lines of the Report on Public Education in Prussia, presented by Victor Cousin. In the beginning, the duration of the teacher education course was of one year.
But when the course was changed to two years, education was taught in the first year and in the second year, organisation of teaching was taught. Then, only those students who had passed primary education came for admission and after the training they could become qualified teachers for teaching primary classes.
In fact, those Normal Schools provided education as in the lower secondary classes. At that time there was no provision of any specific teacher training; rather the courses of first two years of secondary education after primary level were taught. In some places, even this education was not compulsory and one could become a teacher without training after completing the primary level course.
In U.S.A. during the first 25 years of twentieth century, it was customary for the Normal Schools to revise the subjects of primary level therefore, under teacher training, the twofold programmes—(1) Teaching of Methods of Teaching and Principles of Teaching (2) Practice Teaching—were conducted.
But on realising that for creating future citizens of the nation, better qualified teachers were required; more attention began to be paid on training in teaching methods and higher professional education, instead of education subject. In 1920, 2 year course in the Normal Schools was converted into 4 year course.
Thus, by the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century, the training course became a course of 4 year duration and all the Normal Schools were changed into Teachers’ Training Colleges.
(2) Teachers’ Training Colleges:
As has been said above, the curriculum of the Normal Schools had been changed into 4 year course and t heir form had been changed into Teacher Training Colleges; But even earlier there were Teachers’
Training Colleges besides Normal Schools. About 125 years before, in 1857, Government Teachers’ Training College had been established in Illinois. This college provided higher professional training for college teachers.
Upto the American Civil War, this college continued to give professional training to college teachers. At that time, some provision was made in the Liberal Arts Colleges for lectures on the art of teaching. In 1888, a teachers training college was opened in New York.
The founder of this college was Nicholos Murray Butler. This teachers’ training college was affiliated to – the Columbia University, after it had worked for 10 years. By 1920, the number of these training colleges rose to 45. Afterwards, in the subsequent 20 years, the number of these colleges increased rapidly. During the subsequent 20 years, the number of newly opened teachers training colleges went up by three times.
The period between 1920 to 1992 has been a period of revolution and expansion for the system of teacher training. During this period, the importance of education as a subject was reduced and that of techniques of teaching increased. Thus, two levels—pre-service and in-service emerged in the field of teaching and nature of secondary level training changed into college level training.
At that time, the training-curriculum was revised to include those courses which could make the prospective teacher skillful, efficient, humane, learned and of fine personality. So the curriculum included programmes like general education, specialisation, teaching professional education, teaching practice, etc.
An effort was made to lay teaching foundation by including important subjects like humanities, departmental education, hygiene, social studies, natural sciences, art, educational sociology, education psychology, educational philosophy and principles of education.
For increasing the specific ability of teachers, various programmes and courses were organised. By receiving such training, the teacher could attain professional efficiency. Today, in order to make the teacher training more developed and utilitarian, free opportunities, supervision by experienced supervisors and guidance by serious-minded counselors have been provided. Practice-teaching system is changing according to national needs and is becoming more psychological and progressive day by day.
In U.S.A., the training colleges are run and managed by the State. The teachers for primary and secondary classes are awarded Bachelors degree after training. Some colleges, in order to add specialisation, are conducting five year courses instead of four years. These colleges award master’s and doctorate degrees. These colleges have gained international reputation because of their special teacher training programme.
(3) School of Education:
Schools of Education are like Teachers Training Colleges but they are affiliated to some University. In 1879, Michigan University, first of all, organised full-time teacher training. However, even before this, Michigan, Brown and New York Universities had started part-time training system. Michigan University awarded graduation degree after the completion of the teaching courses.
In 1888, New York University also began to award graduate degree and modernised teaching profession by giving pedagogy, a vocational form. This policy affected teacher training schools and centres all over and all of them tried to raise the standard of teachers’ training.
The nature of American Schools of Education is similar to the separate departments of education in Universities. These departments are completely independent in their organisation and administration. Admission to the education course is given after the completion of two year degree course.
In the training curriculum, provision has been made for the teaching of general education, philosophy of education, psychology, language, literature and culture along with the education subjects. During teacher training, emphasis is laid on professional efficiency and skill. After the completion of the course, graduate degree is awarded. The courses in these Schools of Education are similar to those of Teachers Training Colleges.
(4) Education Department:
In 1873, the Iowa University had started part-time teacher training programme, teaching science of education as a separate subject. Afterwards, the
Michigan University conducted full-time training course on science of education, in a vocational form. Thus many Arts colleges and Universities established separate Departments of Education, considering science of education as an independent subject and conducted teacher training course.
Discussions on the development of pedagogy continued in U.S.A from time to time and new changes continued. Educationists and experts emphasised the need of making the training for teaching profession more technical under the science of education. Consequently, Arts colleges and Universities began to give professional training in the service of education by establishing separate departments of education.
Chicago University established its independent departments. Advanced courses have been started for the training of School administrators and educational administrators. In these departments, provision has also been made for research in the science of education.