A teacher in France was suspended after he allegedly asked students to “write an essay from the viewpoint of a suicidal teenager,” according to an article from the BBC Monday. The controversial assignment was distributed to two classes of 13- and 14-year-old students back in October, but it was not until after the students and their parents complained that the teacher was suspended.
Some members of the community where the incident took place said the teacher presented the subject well, according to an article in The Huffington Post Tuesday.
We disagree — while some of us might experience feelings of self-loathing or disgust from time to time, asking anyone, especially young teenagers, to recall those feelings for the sake of a grade or experimentation seems highly inappropriate.
To say that the teenage years are challenging is no overstatement. By the end of their teen years, about 20 percent of young people will have struggled with depression, according to a statement on the Families for Depression Awareness website.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death of people between 15 and 24 years old, according to the Center for Disease Control.
To ask young students who might be struggling with these issues to rehash them in class seems callous, at best, and could have major psychological consequences.
It is also worth looking into what the teacher’s motivations were. How did the teacher intend to use the assignment? Was it something that was going to be distributed among classmates? One would hope not, as it would seem like a serious breach of privacy. Also, how was the teacher going to calculate grades? By how harshly students addressed themselves? That seems severe.
Teenage depression and suicide are serious issues that need to be discussed. However, asking students to write their own suicide notes is not an appropriate way to address these issues.