Alexander Wharton answers Ten Questions

Alexander Wharton is a recent addition to our alumni community. Since graduating with first-class honours in 2010, he has been busy surviving his first years as a full time English teacher in an independent Anglican school in the suburbs of Sydney. Here he reflects on his time in the Faculty and how his studies helped make him who he is today.

1. When were you in the ESW?
Five years as an undergraduate from 2006 to 2010.

2. What degree/s did you complete?
Combined degree consisting of a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education (Secondary: Humanities and Social Sciences)(Honours).

3. Was there something in particular that attracted you to this course of study?
As Australia's oldest University, the reputation of the Faculty and the University of Sydney as a whole is unprecedented. I liked the idea of having a five-year combined degree structure which meant that I was able to really grow into my studies and become comfortable in my transition from a university student to a professional educator.

4. In what way did you use your ESW degree?
I used the lecturers for support and guidance when I doubted myself and if I should do teaching. I used the course readings for that spark of inspiration. I used the tutorials to develop my teaching and presentation skills and the contacts I have made with other pre-service teachers have made me who I am, as both a person and a professional. All together, I used my degree to become a teacher, which is what I am doing now.

5. What's your current role?
I am employed as a years 5-12 English teacher and debating co-ordinator at William Clarke College, Kellyville.

6. How did your studies in the Faculty inform your current position?
Various aspects of my studies have informed my current position and practice as a teacher. The practical nature of the curriculum method courses gave me a foundation for which to plan, teach and assess for effective student learning. The craft knowledge courses prepared me well for the realities of the teaching profession. Completing research and honours within the Faculty helped me reflect on the relationship between theory and practice, and how the two inform each other.

7. Do you have fond memories of your time on campus at ESW?
Such fond memories! Meeting and making friends in the Education Building foyer, having Thai launches in Newtown after class, sitting in the quad and debating educational theories with other pre-service teachers, being in lectures and listening to stories about teaching and thinking "this will be me one day", the walk to Bosch lecture theatre, drinking coffee at Manning. How can I get back there?

8. Were you involved in extra-curricular activities either within or outside the Faculty?
I love working with others who share a like mind and extra-curricular activities were excellent for this. In 2009 and 2010 I was on the executive of the Faculty student society (EDSOC), produced the 2010 Education and Social Work Revue, contributed to Faculty Committees and sat on the Academic Board as a Student Representative as well as teaching English in Thailand on a short term project with the Faculty. I also was involved in the Sydney University Evangelical Union whilst at University.

9. How significant is it to you to be part of the Faculty's alumni & friends group?
I took so much away from my time in the Faculty as a student, and so as an alumni, this is my opportunity to give back, offer support and encourage others to continue to celebrate the great work that the Faculty continues to do.

10. And finally, any words of wisdom you'd like to pass on to the ESW alumni & friends?
We are a community of professional practitioners and researchers who are seeking to make the life experiences of others better. We are a part of something really special, let’s not forget that.