Assoc Prof June Pym – Director of Education Development Unit (EDU), Faculty of Commerce

01 December 2014

For Prof June Pym, teaching has always been about "how you shift things, change things and how to make things more curious, more exciting, more accessible for students".

In her role as director of the EDU she is particularly interested in creating a dynamic learning environment where students also feel a sense of belonging.

"The university has a very dominant culture and students have to deal with many academic and personal challenges to try and fit in," she explains. "For me it is important that we see the variety of students as an asset, and to shift our practices so that it is not just a case of students having to assimilate, but rather asking: what are the different ways of being? What do we need to shift so that [the university] becomes truly transformational?"

One of the ways in which to start making this shift, she believes, is to affirm what people come with and to enable them to find their voices.

"It can be so hard sometimes to walk through that door, to ask those questions, to say 'help, I am drowning and I need help'," Pym says. "It is so important for students to find their voice, to ask and to connect."

In student feedback, where she is often referred to as a motherly figure, it is clear that she acts as such an enabler: "She had a sincere concern for each student's well-being, and genuinely cared about not just our academic progress, but really our advancement overall."

Another wrote: "She saw potential beyond that which we could see in ourselves, and she motivated, encouraged and supported us to realise it."

Pym emphasises that this work has been effective because of a highly skilled and committed team who want to make a difference in students' lives.

Asked what she believes makes for a good teacher, she says: "You have to care. You have to care about the quality of people's learning experience and time. You can give a recipe of things that make a difference, but actually it is about a culture of care – care for students, care for the quality of what you are doing – rather than just being pragmatic. And for me, that is the passion."

An irrepressible passion for their discipline, a genuine enthusiasm to impart knowledge and the desire to make a difference are three of the standout qualities shared by six academics who have been honoured with awards for their teaching efforts. Read more about these six teachers: Dr Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk, Assoc Prof June Pym, Dr Linda Ronnie, Prof Delawir Kahn, Assoc Prof James Gain and Dr Spencer Wheaton.

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