French Minister for Higher Education and Research, Geneviève Fioraso visits the Jules Verne Technological Research Institute (IRT) on October 15, 2012 in Bouguenais, western France. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
An unidentified French teacher has been suspended after she issued a very unsettling homework assignment to her class at at the college Antoine-Delafonte in France. The students, which were reportedly around 13 and 14-years-old, were asked to pen their own suicide notes.
"You've just turned 18 and have decided to end your life. Your decision appears irrevocable. As a final effort, you decide to explain the reasons for your act," the assignment read, according to the Telegraph.
"In setting out your self-portrait, you describe all the disgust you feel for yourself. Your text must bring up certain events in your life at the root of this feeling."
Parents were understandably shocked to hear about the suicide note assignment and wrote to the headmaster and local school authority lamenting: "We are horrified that this type of topics should be proposed to children between 13 and 14 years old."
The Telegraph has more details:
One parent, Béatrice Goupilleau, told Le Charente Libre, the local newspaper, that her son was embarrassed to let her see his suicide note and the teacher's comment, which read: "Not precise enough."
Another, Hélène Ferrari, said: "What shocks me is linking autobiography with suicide, it's really over the top."
Christophe Clément, president of the FCPE parents' union in Montmoreau, said such a subject is "practically inciting (pupils) to commit suicide."
Jean-Marie Renault, the local education authority head, said the teacher had been officially notified of his suspension, adding: "Telling a pupil that he is about to end his life and that he must recount it appears troubling to us."
Geneviève Fioraso, France's higher education minister, said the topic was "dangerous" without "context" but did not condemn the teacher's actions.
Others rallied behind the teacher, including students.
"He's our favorite teacher, the best we've ever had in this school. We don't want him to be punished," one student said.
Some parents too came to the teacher's defense. "What do you think they talk about in the playground? The images they see on TV are far more shocking," a mother said.
"Suicide is part of daily life. Perhaps the teacher wished to raise their awareness of the issue," said another parent.
A group of parents later released a statement saying the media coverage of the incident was "over the top and inappropriate."
What do you think? Was the homework assignment appropriate?