Hey there, folks. You know what blows, and not in a good way? Being afraid to speak in class. It's dreadful, and can have longterm effects. So it is with great empathy--far too much empathy, sadly--that we bring to you yesterday's article in the New York Times concerning a stuttering college student whose professor asked him to shut up. (Richard Perez-Pena's "Stutterer Speaks Up in Class; His Professor Says Keep Quiet").
In part, Perez-Pena writes:
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.”
Horrible. But that's because some educators are (surprise) not well educated. Enter the Stuttering Foundation, who has these eight helpful tips for teachers, lecturers, and professors to remember when dealing with a stutterer.
1. Don’t tell the student “slow down” or “ just relax.”
2. Don’t complete words for the student or talk for him or her.
3. Help all members of the class learn to take turns talking and listening. All students — and especially those who stutter — find it much easier to talk when there are few interruptions and they have the listener’s attention.
4. Expect the same quality and quantity of work from the student who stutters as the one who doesn’t.
5. Speak with the student in an unhurried way, pausing frequently.
6. Convey that you are listening to the content of the message, not how it is said.
7. Have a one-on-one conversation with the student who stutters about needed accommodations in the classroom. Respect the student’s needs, but do not be enabling.
8. Don’t make stuttering something to be ashamed of. Talk about stuttering just like any other matter.
More tips and other resources can be found on the Stuttering Foundation's Website.