Ripped from the front page of the Washington Post: “A Breast-Feeding Quiz: Is It Okay in Class?”
The professor of the course “Sex, Gender, and Culture” has gotten herself into a pickle with unwanted publicity. She was beginning the semester of teaching her course at American University and found herself in a real bind. Her child was sick and she had no back-up childcare. She is a single parent. What to do? Kids in her class were okay with her bringing her child, but many were uncomfortable with her breast-feeding–especially since she made no real effort to cover up.
This professor didn’t think it was a big deal. Note the name of her course. But there are many layers to this cake. My first thought was, too bad she didn’t have White House Nannies Back-up Care. And that’s probably my over-riding thought—every family needs a back-up a plan for emergencies. But how do I feel about her taking her baby to work? Not professional. How do I feel about taking a sick baby to a classroom of students. Not considerate. How do I feel about exposing her breast to the class? Distracting, to be sure.
A fellow AU professor who has breast-fed during seminars thought this episode could lead to a teachable moment about parenting challenges. Certainly the plight of this single professor mom is emblematic of the larger problem of working parents and childcare. I’d be interested to hear if and what is learned through this incident.