French teacher suspended over suicidal essay request

December 15, 2012

A French teacher who asked her students to write an essay in which they imagined themselves as a suicidal teenager has been suspended pending an investigation, said French education officials on December 10. The teacher, who works at the Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard secondary school in the Charente region of western France, will discover next week if she is to face disciplinary action following an outcry among parents over a composition she reportedly set for her class of 13-14-year-olds.
According to local newspaper La Charente Libre, the teacher asked the pupils to imagine themselves as an 18-year-old who had taken an irrevocable decision to end his or her life. “You decided at the last minute to explain your reasons,” she said. “Drawing a self-portrait, you will describe your self-disgust. Your text will go over the events in your life that created this feeling.” The teacher was suspended following an anonymous letter from parents which asked: “What will be the next subject – how do you feel when you shoot up?” 

Jean-Marie Renault, the academic director of the Charente region, confirmed the teacher had been suspended and would be asked to explain herself.

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