“I am not a customer”

Group of monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus swarm against a blue sky

At this year’s 2023 Sydney Teaching Symposium, educators learnt about students-as-partners in a unique session hosted and co-facilitated by Business School Lecturer, Dr Maria Ishkova, and her 26 students who shared their insights as student partners. Working in partnership with Maria, the class collectively steered the direction of their learning in their third-year unit of study. What emerged from this was a story of a transformative experience where autonomy, agency, and resilience could flourish. Students shared their experiences in presentation, conversation and poetry. Student and registered nurse Georgina Ledwith shared her poem ‘Butterfly Partners’. This poem and its reading was a joyful and moving tribute to the richness of student experience and partnership, and a call for all educators to trust in students’ voices and agency to share the journey.

Butterfly Partners

Georgina Ledwith

I am not a customer
I am a custodian
I don’t come to buy but rather to cherish and protect
I am not looking to be given your property
I want to learn how to be an architect

Through your devotion and your talent
You invest in me to help me grow
Sowing seeds with future promise
Different seasons and different speeds, cultivation can be slow

Passing on your baton of your experiences
I will hold tight to every word
Maybe I could be a teacher too as the boundaries become blurred

I want to learn how my voice works, that my opinion matters
I will share from my heart even if my voice shakes
It’s amazing what combined bravery, art and devotion makes

I know I paid to be in your class, I have a need to gain value to make up the cost
But in that I want to join you on the quest of learning, you can guide me where I’d otherwise get lost
Like how google maps recalculates routes, thank you for allowing us to go a bit off track
We may miss the motorway and take longer but there’s charm in the scenic route
and we can always go back

In a world full of butterflies, we come as caterpillars, don’t clip our wings before we fly
Please come alongside us and show us your ways, teach us your “why”

From a place of privilege we can dance with the new discoveries and lean into the new
Let’s start with humility and authenticity on this adventure and together we can enjoy the view


Profile image of a woman wearing a teal green coat and forest green scarf. She has shoulder length light brown hair, blue eyes, and is smiling at the camera. She is standing against a blue mosaic tiled background.

Georgina Ledwith is a Registered Nurse in the United Kingdom and recently completed a Post Grad Certificate in Clinical Education in King’s College London. She is passionate about education both within the clinical environment and beyond. Georgina uses poetry as a creative outlet and enjoys sharing her creations. Georgina felt privileged to be able to spend time at the University of Sydney and thoroughly enjoyed her time here.

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