Person Sheet

Name Matthew Stanton SHARMAN
Birth 21 May 1876, Campinas, Brazil
Death 11 Aug 1953, C'BURY Age: 77
Father Matthew SHARMAN (1837-1915)
Mother Ann JONES
1 Alice Mary Ann TAYLOR
No Children
Notes for Matthew Stanton SHARMAN

Outstanding scholar. He was Dux of Scotch Collage; a Teacher and lecturer and finally Principle of University High School 1915- 1941.

SHARMAN, MATTHEW STANTON (1876-1953), educationist, was born on 21 May 1876 at Campinas, Brazil, son of Matthew Sharman, joiner, and his wife Ann, née Jones, both English born. After some years in Brazil, where his father worked on railway construction, the family returned to England to avoid further attacks of yellow fever which had claimed the lives of two children and threatened his mother's health. Seeking a warmer climate because of continued ill health, the family arrived in Melbourne in 1880.

Matthew attended Central Richmond State School and with a government scholarship entered Scotch College where, in 1894, he was dux. At the matriculation examinations he won the Greek and Latin exhibition and gained first-class honours in mathematics. In 1895 he entered Ormond College, University of Melbourne (B.A., 1898; M.A., 1901; B.Sc., 1907; M.Sc., 1909). Winning first-class honours and the exhibitions in all first and second-year mathematics and natural philosophy subjects, he graduated with second-class honours, gaining the Lyle and Wilson prizes and the Dixson final honours scholarship.

Sharman began teaching in 1898 as senior master in mathematics at Wesley College, and continued in 1899 at Carlton College. After serving as pupil-teacher at Malmsbury State School, he attended the Melbourne Training College in 1901-02 and was appointed lecturer there in 1903. In 1907 he was also appointed by the university an honorary lecturer to assist Dr John Smyth, lecturer in education, and in 1910 he joined the method staff at the new University Practising School which became University High School in 1913. In January 1915 Sharman was appointed second principal of the school and vice-principal (secondary) at the Training College.

Conservative in his personal life, as U.H.S. principal Sharman was highly regarded although not particularly original; traditions of loyalty, honest endeavour and service, established by his predecessor L. J. Wrigley, were preserved. But there was consistency in his educational philosophy. He opposed corporal punishment, overcrowded courses and the tyranny of examinations. He experimented with self-government, supported innovative work by his staff and encouraged high standards and freedom based on self-discipline. His ideals were encapsulated in the increasingly important ceremonial life of the school.

Sympathetic towards staff and pupils, every one of whom he knew by name, he offered ready advice and extra tuition. He fostered a rich cultural life in the school, sharing his own love of music, and engaged parents and the wider community in many activities; a strong advisory council helped to secure the transfer in 1930 from Lygon Street to new accommodation in Story Street. Sharman served the Old Pupil's Association as president and the U.H.S. Masonic Lodge as the first worshipful master.

Awarded the Education Department travelling scholarship in 1925, he visited England and the United States of America. His report, Some phases of secondary education abroad, confirmed the essential conservatism of his educational approach, concluding that the current system of teacher-training was 'best suited to our own conditions'.

A shortish, not robust, slightly swarthy gentleman, Sharman was neatly dressed, alert, approachable but not gregarious. Never condescending, he was unfailingly courteous. Some 1100 old pupils attended his retirement presentation in the Melbourne Town Hall in May 1941. For many he was the ideal schoolmaster, although some pupils rejected his constant promotion of ideals and traditions, and some staff found his faith in the triumph of common sense and his unwillingness to give firm rulings exasperating.

In 1940-42 Sharman was an honorary instructor in mathematics and mechanics for the Royal Australian Air Force. Ill health stopped his war-time work at the Maribyrnong munitions supply laboratories. He had married Alice Mary Ann Taylor on 11 January 1905 at Richmond Presbyterian Church. They shared interest in music, the Church, the school and their Canterbury home, where Sharman died on 10 August 1953. Survived by his wife and childless, he was cremated. A portrait by A. D. Colquhoun hangs at University High School.

Select Bibliography

G. H. Nicholson (ed), First Hundred Years (Melb, 1952); A. Hoy, A City Built to Music (Melb, 1961); Education Department (Victoria), Vision and Realisation, L. J. Blake ed (Melb, 1973); University High School, Principal's Report, 1929, and Record, 1, 1915, 2, 1925, 1, 1926, 2, 1941; University of Melbourne Gazette, Sept 1953, p 67; Melbourne Graduate, 4, no 2, Dec 1953, p 99; Education Dept (Victoria), record of M. S. Sharman (History Services, Education Dept, Melbourne); private information. More on the resources

Author: J. Lawry


Before our present school came into being, there existed in Melbourne a privately owned and operated school by the name of “University High School”. This institution was founded in 1893, and was, at first, located in the then disused Teachers’ College (now part of the Melbourne College of Advanced Education) on the corner of Swanston and Grattan Streets, Carlton. In 1900, the school was moved to a building opposite the Trades’ Hall in Victoria Street, and in 1912, it was closed.

The beginnings of our today’s U.H.S. date from 1910, when The University Practising School opened in a former primary school at the corner of Lygon an Lytton Streets in Carlton. The special purpose of this new school was to provide a place where students of the recently established Diploma of Education course at Melbourne University could observe good teaching and practise their own skills. The school was co-educational from the beginning, and opened with an enrolment of forty boys and forty girls.

The first Principal of The University Practising School was Mr A. Wrigley, who resigned in 1914 to become an Inspector. It was during Mr Wrigley’s time, in 1913, that the school changed its name to The University High School. This was the name that many had wanted from the beginning, but could not be used while the older private school was still in existence.

The second Principal, Mr Matthew Stanton Sharman, was appointed in 1915. Sharman was a fine scholar, a capable musician, and a noted teacher of Mathematics and Science. Under his leadership, from 1915 to 1941, the school grew immensely in stature, and acquired much of its continuing tradition. Sharman himself wrote the music for the school song, and established the original system of Houses, named after members of the school community who gave their lives in the First World War.

At the end of 1929, The University High School moved from Carlton to a new building – the present North wing – in Story Street, Parkville, and the new school was officially opened in May, 1930. Because construction took place during a time of severe economic depression, no additional facilities were provided and more than thirty years were to pass before assemblies could be held in the school’s own hall.

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