How could I ever forget the little gerbil “Squeaks” in my second-grade classroom? He was adorable, little beady eyes darting around, scampering feet making short use of his spinning wheel. Not to mention, the charming way he would eat his food. Squeaks was the classroom mascot, and everybody loved him. But then, the inevitable took place. Squeaks passed on to gerbil heaven on Tuesday night, leaving the entire class in a state of shock and utter despondency. No teacher, no matter how effective, could have lifted the gloom that day, and as a teacher, only now can I see how much valuable classroom time was lost.
Having a pet in the classroom (a little buddy, so to speak) might seem, on the surface, to be a great idea. After all, it would teach younger students the lost art of responsibility, right? Well, death of the class mascot is only one obvious negative consequence that can take place.
1. The Animal Could Be Mistreated or Poor Conditions Could Flourish
Truth be told, Squeaks was treated very well. He was petted, played with, and nobody hurt him because the teacher in charge had a watchful eye. But this might not always be the case. Accidents can and will happen, and some children might play unintentionally roughly. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as PETA, would have a field day finding fault with inadequate living conditions in a classroom, where pets are left overnight and sometimes over weekends and short vacations. The classroom atmosphere, constant bustle, and fluorescent lighting remains improper for most pets.
2. Huh? I Wasn’t Paying Attention!
I was not a student with Attention Deficit Disorder. Well, at least, I was never diagnosed with it. But to say I daydreamed during certain lessons and parts of the day would be a vast understatement. I would be reading the posters on the wall, wondering whether I would be allowed to go bicycling after school and pondering whether the new blonde three seats away liked me or not. And if there was a pet, I would be watching him, too! Anything was more interesting than the teacher’s exhausting lesson, which seemed to rattle on forever. Alas, a pet will only add to a student’s lack of attention, especially if that student is already suffering from “head in the clouds syndrome.” Why make it worse?
Sneezing is the least of one’s worries as it applies to allergies toward animal fur. Some people have reactions more severe, such as shortness of breath, rashes, and chest and nasal congestion. Children with asthma are particularly susceptible. While death is very far-fetched, a beloved classroom mascot might have to be whisked away due to a student or two who are highly allergic. This will not exactly endear him or her to the rest of the class.
4. Parental Complaints
And now a cause and effect relationship. Let the phone calls begin! Parents with children who are highly allergic will rightfully demand the pet to be removed from the learning area. If the pet happens to bite a child, much like Squeaks (who took a small nip at a boy named Victor), parents will again get riled up. Newly hired teachers should especially take heed of this: There exists no reason to make yourself a target for parental complaints. You just received your bachelor’s degree. Leave the mascot out of the educational equation!
Pets do so much to lift our spirits and make our lives better. Education, ironically enough, has the same result. But mixing in a class mascot in the hallowed halls of higher learning can do a grave injustice to both.
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The Positive Implications of Having a Camera in Every Classroom