Controversy as Prep School Teacher Asks Students To Write Suicide Notes
It’s funny, isn’t it, what still constitutes a taboo subject in the western world, particularly when it’s not that uncommon. But controversy recently arose when a teacher at York Prep in Manhattan asked ninth-graders to write a suicide note “from the perspective of a suicidal character in the book (by Sue Monk Kidd) The Secret Life Of Bees.” The assignment posed the questions: “How would you justify ending your life? What reasons would you give?”
Needless to say, this didn’t go down that well.
"We thought this was such an outrageous assignment for a 14-year-old to get," a parent told the Post. "We pay a lot of money to send our kids to the school."
Right. But did anyone make a complaint to the school? Not according to the headmaster, Ronald Stewart. He also believes the assignment “had merit”.
The teacher wanted the assignment to be a lesson in carpe diem. She wanted them to look and see why one should live life to the fullest… "We’re going to have to knock off a lot of novels [from our curriculum] if we can't talk about taboo subjects like suicide," said Stewart. "Are [we] supposed to ignore [these topics] or try to talk about them honestly? "
Exactly. It sounds like a bit of a storm in a teacup, to me, particularly if no one’s complained to the school where it happened. It’s not like anyone’s suggesting the students consider suicide, just to think about it from the character’s point of view. Besides, if we can’t talk about suicide, doesn’t that just make it more interesting/exciting as forbidden things often are?
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