A professor presented a lesson to students at the University of North Texas titled “Sexual Pleasure and Response in Infants,” Big League Politics first reported last week. Moreover, as highlighted by The College Fix on Friday, the textbook for the same course, “Psychology and Sexual Behavior,” suggests students take “field trips” to preschools and elementary schools to observe students’ “sexual interactions.”
The lesson plan on sexuality in infants, which can be viewed here, is from the 13th edition of Our Sexuality, the course’s listed textbook, reports the Fix. “One section of the document, titled ‘Teaching Ideas,’ suggests that instructors take students on a ‘field trip’ to observe children possibly engaging in ‘sexual interactions’ during recess hours,” the report notes.
“Take the class to a local elementary school playground, or ask permission for a few of your students to attend various school playgrounds, preschools, or daycare centers during recess to observe behaviors of children,” the textbook says. “Ask students to note interactions between same-sex and mixed-sex groups. Which group was more frequent? Which behaviors were most frequent? What kind of touching did children engage in? What about teasing behaviors? Were there any overtly sexual interactions? What was the age range of the children being observed? Have students write a report comparing their observations with information in the text.”
It’s unclear if the parents of the young students potentially being observed by college students and their professors would be notified, or if they would instead be seeking permission merely from the children’s teachers.
One of the textbook’s editors, Karla Baur, told the Fix that neither she nor Robert Crook, the other now-deceased editor of the textbook, wrote the instructor’s guide where the bizarre “field trips” were suggested.
“[The publisher] typically contracts out that part of a revision. From my perspective, this ‘field trip’ seems rather odd, potentially problematic and fruitless,” admitted Baur. “I’m not aware of any professors having assigned it – but I’d certainly be interested in students’ reactions to the proposal!”
“I can say that as an instructor I have never used that activity and I would be quite surprised if any instructor has asked their students to observe children on a playground,” said Laura Widman, the textbook’s current editor and an N.C. State professor. Widman added that she’d like the suggestion removed.
A “note” from the course syllabus underscores the “controversial” nature of the course:
This course will cover topics – and course materials (e.g., textbook, slides, videos) may contain information and images – that some may find offensive or controversial. This is not a required course; therefore, students who may find these materials objectionable are encouraged to consider alternatives.
Course objectives read as follow:
1. To describe human sexuality from historical and multicultural perspectives.
2. To define major theoretical perspectives that influence the scientific study of human
3. To explain the significant research methodologies within the discipline.
4. To examine the socially constructed nature of sexual identities.
5. To describe how sexuality overlaps with various social institutions, like education, media, family and government.
6. To recognize the changing nature of social norms.