Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Babies in classrooms...

Today's post may or may not be brief.  I am feeling a bit under the weather today.  I think I might have picked up a virus in one of the caves we visited.  I've got a scratchy throat, slightly productive cough, and I'm tired.  I will probably go back to bed in a little while and do some reading.  Hopefully, I won't fall asleep like I did yesterday and have a nightmare about moving back to Texas and renting from someone horrible.

Anyway... on with today's topic.  This morning, I read an article from Today.com about a professor who encouraged her student to bring her baby to class.  21 year old single mom Morgan King found herself short on childcare one day and had to miss her human development class.  She emailed her professor to explain her absence and the professor, Sally Hunter, told her to bring the baby to class.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Professor Hunter encouraged King to bring her baby.  Hunter teaches at Tennessee's Department of Child and Family Studies.  I would expect her to have empathy for King's situation.  It sounds like three month old baby Korbyn was well-behaved, too.  She reportedly fell asleep as the professor held her.

Still, as I read the article, my hackles rose a bit.  You see, when I was in graduate school, I took a course in environmental health.  It was not an easy class for me and it was made even more difficult because one of the students regularly brought her infant daughter to class.  The baby would invariably cry while the professor was lecturing.  It was very distracting.  Aside from that, I resented the fact that I was paying a lot of money to be in that class and had to share it with someone whose baby regularly disrupted it.

To me, it seems like a no-brainer to realize that babies don't belong in most classrooms, just as they usually have no place at someone's workplace.  Yes, I understand that shit happens sometimes, but I don't think it's right to impose your shit on other people.  I don't blame Morgan King, though.  She tried to do the right thing.  Her professor is the one who opened the door to imposing on the other students.  

This may not seem like a big deal to some readers.  It takes a village, right?  But what if other single parents, emboldened by the baby's presence in class, decided to bring their babies?  What if, instead of just one infant in the classroom, there are two or three?  And what happens when they start crying?  King's baby is only three months old, so she probably sleeps a lot.  No big deal.  But as babies get older, they become more active.  Would it be appropriate for a student to bring their active two or three year old to class?  How about a five or six year old?  Those kids need child care, too.  But can they sit quietly while the class is in progress or will they need attention?  Is it fair to force your classmates to tolerate your children in an environment where people are trying to concentrate?

I totally get that the professor's heart was in the right place.  Given the subject she teaches, it does seem right that she'd invite the baby to class.  However, when you invite one baby to class, you open the door for other single parents to take advantage.  And then, you don't have a classroom; you have a nursery.  It was nice of the professor to show kindness and empathy toward her student.  I would just hope she'd show the same consideration to other students who have paid to be in school and expect to be in an environment that is conducive to learning.  

I was surprised by the comments on this article.  One woman, whose opinion was much the same as mine, repeatedly got called a bitch and an asshole for pointing out what, to me, seems to be to be very obvious.  Many people said the commenter, who was sticking up for childless students trying to get what they paid for, was lacking in empathy.  One commenter even said "Jesus definitely thinks you're an asshole." to her, as she also accused of her abusing her "privilege".  I was heartened to see that the commenter stuck to her guns, even after the commenter who called her a bitch also wrote this...

Christ alfuckingmighty. Thank god you're ancient and you'll be dead soon. Yikes.

Triggered af by the mere mention of the word privilege.

I mean, wow... Are today's young people really so entitled that they can't see why bringing a baby to class might be an inconvenience and imposition to others?  And if you disagree with someone's assertion that bringing a baby to class is inconsiderate, is it really appropriate to make a comment like the one above?  For someone screaming about empathy, the above commenter doesn't seem to have much herself.  If you want to climb up on a high horse about being kind to unwed mothers, I think your point is much better made when your comments are somewhat respectful and don't include a death wish toward another person.

It's too bad the college apparently doesn't offer childcare facilities for parents in King's situation.  Perhaps that is something Professor Hunter can address.  Wouldn't it be better to create a facility where students can leave their children while they are studying?  Hell, it could even be a "lab".

College is not cheap.  People go to college to learn new skills so they can launch into a career.  There is a dearth of affordable and accessible childcare facilities in the United States.  It would be nice if our society addressed that situation so that students like King would not have to bring their babies to class and other students would not have to accommodate their needs.


  1. I've been in classes twice in which parents brought young infants to class, In one case the baby slept the whole time. In the other case, the one time the baby cried, the dad took him out immediately. I personally was OK with it in these particular instances because in neither case was it a regular occurrence and in neither case did the baby disrupt the class. I can see how, on the other hand, if it became standard practice to bring babies or small children to class anytime childcare fell through, sooner or later someone would abuse the privilege and other students' rights would be infringed upon. Even though my experiences with it have been OK, it's probably best if the norm is that babies are not brought to class. It would seem that with today's technology, face-timing classes or recording lectures for emergencies could make it feasible for parents to deal with childcare emergencies without having to choose between inconveniencing others or entirely missing a class session.

    1. Exactly. Even when I was in grad school 15 years ago, we had distance ed classes. Small babies are likely to sleep, but older kids probably won't. In my situation, the woman regularly brought her baby, too. It wasn't a one time situation.


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