In college, over 55 years ago, I chose “Sociology” as my major. On the very first day in one of my classes, The professor walked into the room and after a minute or two of silence, he began speaking . . . quite “normally” at first. Within a minute though he began to stutter and stammer . . . severely! The episode lasted for a good 5 to 10 seconds. It was very difficult to watch. I think everyone in the room felt anxious. Some people laughed . . . and I’m sure that was a manifestation of their anxiety. One or two students actually got up and left! I sat there and on some level, felt the urge to leave but didn’t. The hour long class seemed to go on forever as the professor presented very interesting and important information on the subject matter!
After a while I settled down and my level of discomfort softened. I thought:
"Here is a person, with an extreme speech impediment. And despite that, there he was, having what I assumed was great courage, standing in front of class of 18 to 20 year olds, sharing his expertise. He made no mention of his clearly obvious challenge. It “was what it was” . . . just one facet of who he was! After some days, I accepted how inconsequential it was. Turned out that he was one of the best professor I had.
After extensive research I handed in a paper entitled “The ritual use of peyote among the Navajo”. When the papers were returned, I was delighted to see “A+” on the front page. At the end of class that day, the professor approached me and commented on the excellence of my work! Not only that, he then proceeded to invite me to his home to discuss some further thoughts that he had about my paper. Well we stood 2 to 3 feet apart, his speech was interrupted by the same stammering and stuttering that took place every day during the class. I just waited, without discomfort, until he resumed discussion. I took him up on his invitation. As we sat together at his home, after about 30 minutes of discussion, he totally surprised me by suggesting, that if I would be willing to edit my paper, i.e. shortened it, he thought it had a very good chance of being published in a sociology journal.
After a few days to think about it, I came to the conclusion that I was so “burned out”, after putting so much effort into the paper, that would not go ahead with his suggestion.
It turned out, that, imho, this professor was the best of them all. I was so glad that I did not let my initial discomfort cause me to leave that very first day and give up on this brilliant, motivational “person” . . . Who, despite his oratory challenges, went on to get his PhD in Sociology and decided to become a professor!