Morehouse College visiting professor Nathan Alexander said he was just trying to help when he not only allowed a student to bring his infant daughter to his class on Friday, but volunteered to hold the child as he taught.
Pictures of the unconventional situation have garnered such attention on social media, with many hailing Alexander’s efforts to assist the student, Wayne Hayer, when he couldn’t find childcare.
“I’m not an exception,” Alexander said in a telephone interview Saturday afternoon with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have teachers who (assist students in similar ways) every day.”
Alexander said he initially discussed the idea of the student bringing the child to class a few weeks ago when Hayer said he couldn’t stay for office hours because he needed to pick her up.
To the professor’s surprise, Hayer took Alexander up on his offer. Hayer arrived to Alexander’s algebra class with the baby girl dressed in a pink outfit. The professor said he was “gleeful.”
Alexander, though, noticed Hayer was distracted watching the child during the beginning of the 50-minute class and offered to hold her.
“Hey, I’ll take her so you can take some good notes,” Alexander recalled saying.
Alexander said he rocked the child with his left hand and lectured with his right hand. The child, the professor said, was quiet through the class and fell asleep near the end of his lecture. …
Alexander, who joined the Morehouse faculty in 2017, said this was not his first experience allowing a student to bring a child to class. He recalled a student once brought a child Alexander believes was 8 or 9 to his class.
Alexander said such allowances, to him, are part of the mission of colleges such as Morehouse, the nation’s lone college for African-American men — men finding ways to help other men. The Atlanta college’s most famous graduate is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
When I’ve written about the need for a broader, authentic spectrum of choice, this is the sort of thing I have in mind beyond law and policy reforms. We should be able to respond in better ways to the natural needs of mothers and fathers than to promote extreme choices like abortion or expensive childcare, both of which are sometimes impossible or anathema to many people—and both of which, by the way, are economic in nature.
We want more Americans to feel more able to thrive in the world, with children regardless of particular circumstance. Professor Alexander provides a good model for what sort of response contributes to a more humane culture. It’s the little things that make the big differences.