The Haunted Classroom: The Effects of Childhood Abuse on Pedagogical Practice

Ariel Gratch / Departures in Critical Qualitative Research / December 2022

Through critical autoethnography and personal narrative, this essay traces the academic and professional path of a first-generation student who grew up in an abusive household. The metaphor of “haunting” is used to explain the long-term psychosocial effects of intimate abuse. The author posits that teaching activities that acknowledge the ghosts of the past can help students recognize within themselves and others their own complex personhood. By approaching the classroom through a lens of haunting, the teacher can maintain a critical distance to their students that may help teachers better address student needs.