NSW English teacher uses scholarship to trace roots of American novels

Written by admin on 05/07/2018 Categories: 南京夜网

Alexander Wharton receiving his award from NSW Premier Mike Baird (right) and NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (left). Alexander Wharton receiving his award from NSW Premier Mike Baird (right) and NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (left).
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Alexander Wharton receiving his award from NSW Premier Mike Baird (right) and NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (left).

Alexander Wharton receiving his award from NSW Premier Mike Baird (right) and NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (left).

Earlier this year Alexander Wharton visited the US in search of the roots of the great American novel.

Travelling around six states and many towns far from the tourist track, he delved into the settings and birthplaces of eight classic stories: To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Wizard of Oz and Catcher in the Rye.

Wharton, an English teacher at William Clarke College in Kellyville, had successfully applied for the NSW Premier’s English Teachers Association Scholarship. He used the $10,000 scholarship funds to follow in the footsteps of revered American authors including John Steinbeck, Mark Twain and Harper Lee. During four weeks of study, research, interviews, school visits and lesson observations, he was preparing to bring novels to life for his students.

“I went to the homes of these authors and sat in their studies where they would have looked out their window for inspiration,” he says. “I explored their local worlds and read extracts from the novels I was researching, matching up their exact descriptions with the surrounds of what I saw.”

“My teaching is never going to be the same again as a result of this trip. It has been the most professionally enriching, challenging and rewarding experience and I doubt anything will ever come close to that professional learning journey, other than helping students every day achieve their best.”

Asked to detail what he gained from his study tour, Wharton says he learnt that good writing comes from what you know, and that the most extraordinary novels come from the most ordinary experiences. “I learnt that there is much to be said for visiting the physical settings of novels and that with thanks to technology, students don’t even have to leave the comfort of the classroom for the world of a novel to be brought to life,” he says.

While travelling, Wharton kept a blog (delusionofthegreatamericannovel.wordpress南京夜网) which received more than 2500 hits and readers from all over the world. He was active on Twitter, Instagram and Flickr with the handle @whartonag.

“Now I’m back, I’m submitting a 3000-word report to the Premier’s Office of my findings and recommendations, as well as a suite of teaching resources to be published in the English Teachers Association journal mETAphor and a photo essay for ETA’s website,” Wharton says.

“As well as presenting at the annual State Conference, I will be sharing my findings with colleagues and students in a number of formal and informal presentations. I want the professional learning journey to continue long into the future of classrooms around NSW.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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