“In the Classroom” discusses teaching, the Genocide Museum in Cambodia, American school gun violence, the United Nations trail of the Khmer Rouge, and among many other thought-provoking perceptions.
Quade found inspiration for the essay while in Cambodia in 2012, visiting the Genocide Museum. The museum is a high school-turned prison and execution center-turned museum.
“I was staring at the yellow-and-white checkered floor of one of the classrooms that had been converted into a prison cell,” Quade said. “I couldn’t shake the image of the horrible transformation from place of learning to place of torture and death. We tend to think of schools as safe places, but that’s an illusion on many levels.”
In the essay Quade considers her role in the lives of young adults, in light of the acts of violence often seen in the news.
“Where are we, as adults, when young people need us?” she asks. “Are we ignoring tragedies in the making, such as school violence? Of course we are. And who is this ‘we’? I must be part of that pronoun. I may not be disregarding a student who is considering physical violence (though I also may be), but certainly, as a teacher, I’ve missed opportunities to guide desperate young people. Can I afford to let that happen?”
Quade has been well published in her academic career. Her advice to students is as follows:
“You have to write things first. Many things. And you need to be sure these things you write are ready for others’ eyes, and that you, too, are ready to have others’ eyes on your work. Once you’re there, it’s just a process of sending things out, not being crushed by the inevitable rejections, and enjoying the rare acceptance. Of course, it’s more complicated, and that’s why we spend time teaching about publication in our creative writing workshops. So students looking to get published should take some writing classes here at Hiram!”
Read Quade’s work at http://maryquade.com/essays/.