Two recent New York Times articles have raised important questions about how educators should handle stuttering students in the classroom. Included: expert tips on how educators can approach this issue.
In October 2011, an article by Richard Perez-Pena told the story of Philip Garber, Jr., a 16-year-old who is taking college classes at County College of Morris in New Jersey, and who has a stutter. After the first few sessions of his history class, the professor asked that he pose questions before or after class, so that he would not “infringe on other students’ time.”
The article, “Stutterer Speaks Up in Class: His Professor Says Keep Quiet,” is available at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/education/11stutter.html?_r=1 for a limited time.
The article explains that about 5 percent of people stutter at some point, and about one percent stutter as adults, according to the National Institutes of Health. The current medical view of stuttering is that it is caused by physiological and hereditary factors, though emotions are known to intensify the problem.
Philip’s story highlights the sad fact that the general public may not recognize stuttering as a disability, and raises an important question for educators: How can a teacher balance the needs of an individual with those of the group?
An October 2011 blog post by Jacques Steinberg tried to answer this question. The post, “Hand Raised High, a Stutterer Struggles to be Heard in Class,” is available at http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/hand-raised-high-a-stutterer/ for a limited time.
Readers of the post shared a variety of strong opinions on the matter:
In response to the New York Times coverage, the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation offered eight tips to help educators serve stuttering students in the classroom:
These tips and other helpful resources can be found on the Stuttering Foundation's Web site, www.StutteringHelp.org.
What's your take on how the professor handled this issue? Join the discussion!