My mom was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known—well-read, insightful, and articulate. She didn’t talk much, but when she did, as we used to say in the South, “She was et up with common sense.”
One expression she oft repeated, “Linda, act like you’ve got some sense.” In high school, I realized she had violated a rule of grammar and pointed out that she should say, “Act as if you’ve got some sense.” Her reply? “See what I mean?”
Last week a professor at American University didn’t act as though she had any sense at all. She took her sick child to work and then breastfed her in front of the class.
The media immediately glommed on to the debate about working mothers, insufficient childcare options for single parents, the natural nature of breastfeeding, etc. But they overlooked some essential elements.
First, students did not attend class that day expecting to see their teacher’s breast. Before the outcries about the value of breastfeeding begin, let me assure you there is no greater fan of the benefits of nature’s way than I. While many things occur in nature, they shouldn’t appear in the classroom.
Second, no one mentioned the fact that this professor exposed her class to an unknown source of fever. The same things that prevented her from taking her daughter to child care should have made the mother realize that her students didn’t need exposure to sickness either!
At some point going to work sick took on heroic proportions: “I’m sick. If I die here, just put me in a corner until someone can find a minute to call the undertaker. I have a strong work ethic and wouldn’t dream of missing work, even if I expose the lot of you to leprosy.”
I taught college classes for more than twenty years. I can state with great authority that nothing that professor taught that day was so important that it warranted taking a sick child to class and exposing students to the joys of lactation and infection.
She and others really just need to get over themselves and act as though they had some sense.
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