One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Alexander Mackie’s career is that he was the foundation principal of the newly established Sydney Teachers’ College from 1906 and served in this position for over thirty years. He also held the position of Professor of Education at the University of Sydney from 1910 concurrently with his College principalship. This placed Mackie in a unique position to influence both the academic and the professional preparation of teachers in NSW. He was determined to ensure that primary school trainee teachers received a minimum two year pre-service course, in place of the old pupil-teacher scheme.
Mackie is also noted for a number of other professional initiatives including the establishment of an education professional journal titled Schooling in 1917, which Mackie co-edited with his deputy principal, Dr. P. R. Cole. To publish this periodical Mackie established The Teachers’ College Press, which published a number of other works in the field of education and teaching including at least two of Mackie’s most popular books, The Groundwork of Teaching (1919) and Studies in Education (1932), this latter dealing more with the actual theory of education than the practical aspects of teaching and schooling. Mackie, born in Scotland and educated at the University of Edinburgh, died in Sydney in 1955. The Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education was later named in his honour.