photo by Ray Fragapane
My Educational Philosophy
"I urge you to be teachers so that you can join with the children as co-collaborators in a plot to build a little place of ecstasy and poetry and gentle joy."
I call myself a communication therapist or a speech path, even though the official term for the profession is a speech pathologist. The word “pathologist” doesn’t resonate with me as it suggests seeing people through the lens of disease rather than as neurodiverse individuals, some of whom have speech/language/communication/literacy challenges that accompany their unique strengths. For that reason, I prefer the terms "communication therapist"( as oral speech is not the only modality through which people can communicate) and “speech path,” as it suggests that I am here to coach and guide others on their path to expanding their speech/language/communication/literacy skills. I also resonate with Phuong Palafox's term "speech-language advocate."
Traditionally, this field has been based on a medical model. I believe it’s time for a paradigm shift and choose to base my services on a more holistic model that includes the social model of disability/social justice model, which involves meeting people's needs based upon equity rather than tethering my availability to serve them upon necessitating that they be labeled or “qualify for services” based upon insurance or school policy qualification guidelines. These days, my involvement with the field is primarily as a professor at San Francisco State University.
I see unconditional love/ acceptance and active listening as the ideal starting points for mentoring people and envision our profession expanding, as psychological therapy has done, to meet the needs of a broad, diverse range of people. Taking brain-based education, the impact of positive emotions, and somatic self-regulation into account, I also believe in the integration of work and play. As much as possible, I want the people I mentor to enjoy learning and to foster the love of life-long learning. I coined the word “plurk”( play + work = plurk) to reflect this and created a character named Plurk too.
Jim Cartwright | Dec 2023
The link above is to an article I published in The ASHA Leader. It gives suggestions on how you can have your students write poems or short stories to improve the generalization of their speech and language skills, while also cultivating a positive attitude about writing. The links below are to two different Facebook groups that I administer/co-administer.
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I wrote this song when I was in graduate school to help me learn the anatomy of the larynx.