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Reproduced from the archive of The Mary Baker Eddy Library

Normal Class

Mary Baker Eddy began teaching what she termed “Normal” classes at her Massachusetts Metaphysical College in August 1884. The Normal classes prepared Christian Science healers, who had already taken the first “Primary” course, to teach students of their own. (“Normal” relates to “Normal school,” a term that in 1887 was, according to Webster’s dictionary, “a school whose methods of instruction are to serve as a model for imitation; an institution for the education of teachers.”)

In 1883, a few Christian Scientists began to teach Christian Science classes, and they wrote to Mary Baker Eddy with questions arising from these endeavors. The results of these attempts were mixed, and Eddy felt at that time that they were not adequately prepared to teach. The introduction of Normal classes into the College curriculum indicates Eddy’s desire to create a standardized process for the training of teachers and have Christian Scientists in the field properly prepared to teach. She remarked in a letter to her student Ellen Brown Linscott that students of Normal class graduates “must not become teachers until they have passed through the Normal course of instruction.” [Eddy to Linscott, 20 October 1884, L12980]

By the end of Mary Baker Eddy’s life in 1910, Normal classes were taught every three years under the auspices of the Board of Education of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and this practice continues to the present day. The class convenes the first week of December and students are instructed from two sections of Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: the chapter “Recapitulation” (pages 465-497) and the platform of Christian Science (pages 330-340). The classes, and the teaching of the classes, are governed by the By-Laws in Eddy’s Manual of The Mother Church.

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