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Professor Tells Stuttering Student Not to Speak in Class

October 12, 2011

Professor Tells Stuttering Student Not to Speak in Class

by Suada Kolovic

For years, educators have stressed the importance of asking questions and participating in classroom discussions, insisting that education is a dialog between student and teacher. But what if your professor personally insisted that you keep quiet during class? For one student at a New Jersey community college, that was just the case.

Philip Garber Jr., a 16-year-old who is taking two classes at the County College of Morris, has a profound stutter that makes talking difficult – and talking quickly impossible. According to the Star-Leger, after the first few class sessions in which Garber actively participated, he received an unusual email from his instructor: The professor, an adjunct named Elizabeth Snyder, requested that he pose his questions before or after class, “so that we do not infringe on the other students’ time.” As for the questions she asks during 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.”

Determined to resolve the issue, Garber reported the situation to a college dean, who suggested he transfer to another teacher’s class, where he has been asking and answering questions again. The college wouldn’t say if any disciplinary action was taken against Snyder. (For more on the story click here.)

Do you think Garber was unfairly discriminated against because of his stutter? Do you think Ms. Snyder’s request was out of line?


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