102

I'm a student; recently, in one of my classes, a fellow student brought their baby in a stroller. She may have asked the professor beforehand for permission to do this. The baby cried, made loud utterances, and loudly kicked the inside of its stroller. Several students, including me, found this very distracting. The professor didn't react to any of this. What should he have done? Should students be prohibited from bringing babies to class, or are there some circumstances under which it should be allowed?

I didn't complain to anyone, as I assumed that the student brought her baby to class because of exceptional circumstances and that this wouldn't become a habit. I don't know whether anyone made a complaint. This has only happened once, during the most recent lecture.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Further comments will be deleted. – ff524 Sep 10 '17 at 14:26
102

A blanket ban on bringing babies to class is probably not allowed at many institutions. However, I agree that if the baby is acting up, then the supervising parent should take the baby out of the classroom so as to minimize disruptions to the overall lecture.

This should be reached as an agreement outside of class time so that the lecturer is not placed in the position of having to stop lecture to ask the parent to remove his or her child from the room.

  • 90
    While I fully agree with you, something tells me that a parent who doesn't take a crying baby out of a classroom will act up when someone suggests to him/her that the baby should be taken out of the classroom in such a situation. – Mark Sep 9 '17 at 17:32
  • 78
    @Mark That's why the student and professor need to reach an agreement outside of class time. – JeffE Sep 9 '17 at 20:10
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – aeismail Sep 12 '17 at 21:43
39

The professor's situation is hard to deal with and it is pretty tricky no matter which route he chooses, whether he does not allow the parent bringing kid or he allows them to be present in class. However, I see no difference between college kids using cellphones, or accessing to social media on their personal computers during class and the parent bringing her kid. Can you ban personal computers in class? No. Can you control the person accessing to internet as a professor? Yes, you may block thru the network given to that class but still, you cannot.

Situation is the same. Can you ban parent from attending the class? No. Can you control a 6 month old baby's noises? Arguably no. In my tender heart, I DO believe no college student parent bring their kids for fun to the school. They bring because they had to, they had no other choice. It should be noted that there are over 5 million college students who are also parents. Finding day-care is either hard or not affordable for them given the high cost of attending college. At this point, kicking the student out of the class due to baby is violating her educational rights.

In that sense, the solution does not lie with "What can professor do?", it lies with higher management of the school.

The only way to solve these kinds of problems at school, I think, lies with the new regulations of school's special services, and technological arrangements. Either they may treat the parent of the kid as a special needs student and provide the necessary assistant for free. Or the school may identify parents as special needs and bring distance learning option for the mentioned classes.

I am not a parent, however, I had been in your situation, the single parent could not afford school's overly expensive daycare, and could not find a babysitter at home after her mother, who is the initial caretaker, passed away. However, this situation was taken to the student government body and to the higher management and new arrangements were made, and necessary means to solve the problem were provided by the school.

A little empathy and willingness to solve a problem may bring you to contact with student government body, or approach and urge the professor to bring the issue up in weekly/monthly faculty meetings. Your voice won't be heard if you don't raise it up.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ff524 Sep 10 '17 at 14:27
  • 1
    This is the right answer! I am stunned by the most stupid comment ever in the chat: "The students who want to learn (and are prepared to regulate their breeding activities to achieve that goal!) will apply plenty of peer pressure, without any further encouragement." This sounds so disgustingly inhumane! – Haque Dec 17 '18 at 23:15
17

In my former department, one lecturer brought this up. The answer given was that the student was not allowed to bring the baby to a lecture, because legally if their were some incident and the baby was harmed, then this wouldn't be covered by the University Insurance Regulations.

  • 2
    @user79680 Perhaps because the insurance policies are not the same in all institutions, so this may be not relevant to the OP. – Dmitry Grigoryev Sep 12 '17 at 7:37
  • 7
    +1. It's a shame this is downvoted. It's a very relevant and important point in general, whether it applies to OP's case or not. And even if it isn't applicable, this doesn't deserve a downvote simply because the answer "may not be" relevant to OP's case. – tilper Sep 12 '17 at 13:05
  • 5
    -1 because this reasoning (as it is presented currently) is ridiculous. The situation as described is not a lab or a workshop, but a classroom. – moooeeeep Sep 12 '17 at 18:20
  • 9
    +1 for the answer, although I must agree that "because babies are not insured on our premises" just sounds like a lame excuse for not dealing with the real issue of a student having to (or wanting to) bring their baby to class. – Earthliŋ Sep 12 '17 at 22:45
  • 2
    -1 because citation is needed, this just sounds like a rumor playing on people's fears of opaque, obfuscated insurance regulations. – user18072 Sep 14 '17 at 13:27
12

College classrooms are learning environments that students pay tuition to attend. The material being taught is important for the students to learn to excel in their field. What may not be a distraction to one person could be to another and what gives one irresponsible person the RIGHTS to interrupt everyone elses learning? The preservation of the learning environment is a necessity. The parent has several choices such as taking online classes, organizing child care care with others facing the same difficulty, have more than one back up plan for child care etc.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ff524 Sep 11 '17 at 20:23
  • You are not a single parent, are you? – Haque Dec 17 '18 at 23:17
9

TLDR

What should [the professor] have done?

Depends on the actual extent of the disruption. But probably he did the right thing.

Should students be prohibited from bringing babies to class.

Of course not.


There is no such thing as a perfect learning environment

Even assuming all sources of distraction eliminated, I doubt that you'd be able to focus 100% on the input provided by the lecturer and that you'd be able to pick up and digest every bit of information presented after one time hearing it during lecture time. If your learning strategy relies on others spoon feeding and guaranteeing "perfect learning conditions" for you all the time, good luck to you.

Of course, the student should take the baby out of the classroom if it constantly requires attention. However you should be able to ignore the little noises happy babies usually make. Not all children require being looked after all the time. If they do, it should probably be taken care of outside the classroom. If they don't, there's no reason to outright ban them for some minor distractions they may or may not cause.

Not all distractions are created equal and regulations regarding the usage of entertainment technologies obviously do not apply here. A balance need to be found requiring a certain degree of thoughtfulness and tolerance on all sides. But you need to accept the fact, that you don't live in a world without children.

Also parents deserve formal education

To those who argue the normal way of life means education first, family second, and it's their own fault not adhering to that, I say that for academics there will never be a better time to reproduce. Do you want to take a break after completing your master's or phd? Do you rather want to take a break during your postdoc or professional career phase in the industry? Do you want to buy and pay off a house first? You can't wait until retirement to start a family, as a woman at least. Also note that most people probably will find it easier to share the little money they have as a student with a baby, rather than cut their household income almost by a factor of two after getting used to a dual income, no kids lifestyle.

It is as essential for parents to receive formal education, as it is to you. Probably the situation is at least as inconvenient for them, as it is to you. So you can expect them to have a strong incentive already to get external child care available whenever possible. As parents usually have it harder than you all the time, it seems unfair to make it even harder for them, just to avoid causing others to notice there is a world outside beyond the lecture topic.

Diversity is good for you

You are lucky, because it seems to be possible to participate in the education provided by your university even as a parent. Because that means that there are people promoting a demand for a family-friendly environment and likewise family-friendly employment conditions, that might benefit you one day. In the long term (evolutionary sense) it's undesirable to remove the academics from the gene pool. Similarly, it's undesirable to remove the parents from education or the workforce.

In the short term, I'd suggest you to either ignore the situation (as the professor did) or to get to know the parent, talk about how she feels about this, what her options are. Ideally in a non-offensive way. Maybe this is different in the US, but here in Germany every sizeable university has programs for the promotion of a family-friendly culture at the university and for the support of working or studying parents among students and staff. If there is none, you could suggest to establish one.

A family-friendly culture starts by recognizing children are there and by making offers to those involved to improve the situation for everyone. If there are no options outside the classroom, they will continue to stay inside. It's the same as with cyclists without proper cycling infrastructure. They need to make use of whatever they can find.

  • 9
    The "family-friendly culture" you cite is based 100% on the babies being removed from the educational environment. A baby making noise is no more acceptable in class than a boombox, a TV, or a phone going off every minute. You're not in class to play with your baby, or surf the web, or chat on your phone - you're there to study. And if you aren't there to study, at the very least you can remove yourself from the class and allow the rest of the students to study. It's really that simple. – Graham Sep 11 '17 at 16:23
  • 9
    @Graham The parent is not in class to play with his baby either. A family-friendly culture starts by recognizing children are there and by making offers to those involved to improve the situation for everyone. If there are no options outside the class room, they will continue to stay inside. It's the same as with cyclists without proper cycling infrastructure. They need to make use of whatever they can find. – moooeeeep Sep 11 '17 at 17:30
  • 6
    @Itsme2003 I would hardly compare a single occasion during which noise was disruptive in one lecture one day to "gain[ing] nothing from your education." – Zach Lipton Sep 12 '17 at 1:32
  • 2
    @moooeeeep The social aspect of education happens outside the classroom, not inside. The school exists in a social context, but the lessons themselves are purely there to, as you put it, "fill you up with knowledge". There is no other purpose - and indeed, bringing any other purpose to them destroys them, as the OP has proven. You can use that knowledge in a social context, sure, but getting that knowledge is what the classroom is for. And you leave your widescreen TV, your phone calls, your Facebook messages, your hifi and your family outside. – Graham Sep 12 '17 at 11:52
  • 3
    “parents deserve formal education” But this has nothing to do with the right of disrupting a lecture. – Andrea Lazzarotto Sep 12 '17 at 15:08
3

I would talk to your professor about this after class. He's responsible for organizing the learning process during his class, and should be made aware of any problems related to that process.

Ask if there's a policy which requires parents with babies to be admitted. If this is the case, there's not much you or your professor can do. It's unreasonable to expect a baby to sleep on a schedule, and when babies are awake, they make all sorts of noises.

If your professor allowed this out of goodwill, your complains should make him reconsider his decision regarding such admissions in the future.

Complaining to the parent will probably not help. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't bring their baby in class if they had better options, as they're just as disrupted by the baby during class as you are. In any case, the decision to admit them with a baby in class is not yours to make.

0

This is a great question for several reasons. In today's world, we have phones they are to be turned off from ringing and when they are vibrating, they are just as annoying; we have people clearly watching a program on a laptop during a lecture; now we have a small child not behaving, which is normal, but we do not know why the child is there that one day.

The question of the baby in class could be complicated. Has this happened previously? If not than there may be a very good reason and the professor knew.

Therefore, ignore this. If this becomes a standard event I would find out if babies can be brought into class. Going to school makes being a mom even more difficult; you have to give her credit. She came to class.

Perhaps helping her might let her know the child needs to behave better, or be brought to class while tired enough to sleep. Run her round the park, than come in. Or perhaps pass the child around the room and see who she quiets down for, "It Takes a Village" as I recall.

This is one of those problems that deserve compassion, understanding and a discussion with your professor on how to have a baby in class should she return and how to let Mom know she has to behave a bit better. There are so many distractions, one more seems to blend in.

  • 12
    Welcome to Academia SE. As it stands your answer is very difficult to read as it has hardly any structure and just appears to be a stream of thought. Can you please edit it to make it more readable? – Wrzlprmft Sep 10 '17 at 8:48
  • @Wrzlprmft As I read this, the suggestion is for other students to help out the parent with the baby. – Dmitry Grigoryev Sep 12 '17 at 7:41
  • Or perhaps pass the child around the room and see who she quiets down for, "It Takes a Village" as I recall. Interesting solution... – user84207 Jan 12 '18 at 18:33

protected by StrongBad Sep 11 '17 at 12:46

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.