A normal school is an educational institution whose purpose is to train teachers. Normal schools in Canada and the United States trained teachers for primary schools, whereas in Europe they addressed all educational levels. The first, L’Ecole normale in Reims, France was founded in 1685 by St Jean Baptiste de la Salle.
What are the attributes of a normal school? The Latin word norma refers to proceeding according to established norms, that is, to reason, to the nature of things, and to general usage (as in the modern sense of “normative”). A normal school should embrace all the branches of primary teaching. It has a duty to “review everything teachable in elementary schools, to correct all errors that may affect it, to regulate all principles composing it, and to place teaching in the way to perfection the most complete and the soonest attained.” (M. Regnaud)
In 1857 the objects of the normal school were first, to train primary school teachers, and second, to verify all the different methods of primary school teaching which require an understanding of "...reading, writing, French and English Grammar, Geography, Arithmetic, the rudiments of Geometry, Algebra, and trigonometry, Surveying... the use of mathematical instruments including the Theodolite and mariner's compass, some ideas of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and ...elements of Natural History...History...Astronomy...Music (vocal or instrumental)... Agriculture...horticulture...and Book-keeping (in a practical manner).” (M. Regnaud)
A normal school consisted of two distinct departments. The first is the normal school proper, where the rules of the art of teaching are expounded; the second is the “model school”, where these rules are illustrated by practice.