Playing Favorites

Lecture hall

Photo by English106

The first week of classes at Clarion University is pretty much in the books.  A mix of faces…some old, some new…staring at me in class.  The new ones looking somewhat apprehensive.  The old ones more relaxed…they know me, they know the drill, they know what to expect.  It’s a time of possibility as they embark on what I hope will be a semester of authentic learning.

Not only are the first weeks of class some of my most enjoyable for their accompanying sense of newness, but also because I get to deliver some of my favorite presentations.  Perhaps the presentation I enjoy most is based upon von Leden’s “A Cultural History of the Larynx and Voice” which appears in Robert Thayer Sataloff’s tome Professional Voice: The Science and Art of Clinical Care.  Having grown up in the Gettysburg-area, I suppose I come by my love of history naturally (that, plus the fact I’ve had many excellent teachers along the way).  Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Boone’s article “A Historical Perspective of Voice Management: 1940-1970” in the July 2010 issue of SID 3’s Perspectives so much.

It’s somewhat distressing to me when I sense students don’t know the history of their area of study and how it shapes current professional practice…this, then, is the driving force behind for “the von Leden lecture”.  It is von Leden’s premise that the study of the larynx and voice evolved across four stages.  The most recent stage (and the stage in which we currently find ourselves), called the Realistic, had its advent with the Renaissance and marks the time when consideration of the phonatory system became a science, based on experimentation and observation (as opposed to simply being a product of speculation).  To think, some of the information I provide and things I teach are based on da Vinci’s (the 15th-16th centuries) and Eustachius’s (16th century) work in the area of anatomy, Mueller’s studies which led to the Myoelastic-Aerodynamic of vocal fold vibration (1837), and Garcia’s work with a self-invented laryngoscope (1854) to cite just a few examples.  As I share such information with my students, what is old truly becomes what is new.

Let’s face it…we all have our favorite things.  It might seem odd, even nerdish, to some to have a favorite lecture.  But really, when you think about it, my craft, my art, is teaching.  And in this respect I am really no different than a woodworker with his favorite chair, a rock band with its favorite album, or an artist with her favorite sculpture.  (Ok…maybe that is all a little grand, but you get my point…lol.)

If you work in higher education is there a presentation you particularly enjoy giving…why?

If you are a former or current student is there a presentation you particularly enjoyed…why?

Kenneth Staub, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He will be a regular contributor to ASHAsphere and welcomes questions or suggestions for posts.