Stutterer Speaks Up In Class; His Professor Says Keep Quiet

Reader's note: We have not been watching Keith Olbermann lately, but perhaps Ms. Snyder could be nominated for "worst person in the world"?

(New York Times)
October 10, 2011

RANDOLPH, NEW JERSEY– [Excerpt provided by Inclusion Daily Express] As his history class at the County College of Morris here discussed exploration of the New World, Philip Garber Jr. raised his hand, hoping to ask why China's 15th-century explorers, who traveled as far as Africa, had not also reached North America. 

He kept his hand aloft for much of the 75-minute session, but the professor did not call on him. She had already told him not to speak in class.

Philip, a precocious and confident 16-year-old who is taking two college classes this semester, has a lot to say but also a profound stutter that makes talking difficult, and talking quickly impossible. After the first couple of class sessions, in which he participated actively, the professor, an adjunct named Elizabeth Snyder, sent him an e-mail asking that he pose questions before or after class, "so we do not infringe on other students' time."

As for questions she asks in class, Ms. Snyder suggested, "I believe it would be better for everyone if you kept a sheet of paper on your desk and wrote down the answers."

Later, he said, she told him, "Your speaking is disruptive."

Entire article:
Stutterer Speaks Up in Class; His Professor Says Keep Quiet


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “Stutterer Speaks Up In Class; His Professor Says Keep Quiet”

  1. This is an interesting article. My feeling when I read SK’s excerpt is that, per reasonable accommodation and balancing the needs of the individual with the needs of others in the class, that the stuttering would be a question of degree. So I watched Mr. Garber’s youtube video*, and, gosh, I see why he made a fuss — his speaking really didn’t seem as if it would be substantially “disruptive” at all. Another telling quote from the article is: “As for Ms. Snyder, he said he might have had some sympathy for the professor’s quandary if she had expressed it less harshly.”
    Good gosh, there were almost 800 comments on this article, most in favor of Mr. G. Here’s what the reporter added in the comments section:
    “The teacher declined to respond, and the college made only a fairly general statement about accommodating Philip, declining to address the merits of the underlying dispute. I was genuinely disappointed by this, precisely because I did not want to write a one-sided article. I was not present in the classroom, so I do not know how much time Philip was taking up. But I can see that the instructor might have had legitimate concerns, no matter how inartfully she expressed them. The article makes clear that listening to him can try one’s patience (as even his mother concedes), though I hope I also made clear that it’s worth the wait. I do not know this teacher’s history, and I would not want her to be vilified based on a brief exchange that might have been ill-advised. (If that were the standard, would anyone be immune?) We did not go into this in the article, but it struck me that technology provides ways to keep things moving along in class at a good pace, while providing a level playing field for all students. For instance, questions and answers could be submitted by e-mail or text message during class, and could even be displayed on a projector.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s