An unnamed, male, French teacher has been suspended after asking pupils at a school to write suicide notes as part of a class assignment.
Students at the collège Antoine-Delafont, a middle to secondary school in Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard southwestern France, were astonished when they received the written assignment.
“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.
“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.”
Horrifyingly, the classroom of mixed 13 and 14-year-old’s did as they instructed.
It was only after parents found out what their children had been asked to do, that an already bizarre scenario got stranger.
Initially, a group of parents wrote an anonymous note to the headmaster and local school authority saying:
“We are horrified that this type of topic could be [discussed] with 13 and 14-year-old children.”
One parent, Béatrice Goupilleau, told Le Charente Libre, the local newspaper, that her son showed her the teacher’s one-line comment after he handed in his “suicide note.”
It simply read: “Not precise enough.”
Christophe Clément, president of a parents’ union in the area, said the teacher was “practically inciting pupils to commit suicide.”
The Telegraphreports that within days of the bizarre lesson, the local education authority head notified the teacher that he was suspended.
It seemed everyone was on the same page with even Geneviève Fioraso, France’s higher education minister, publicly stating: ” If that topic [suicide] was introduced, without context, it’s dangerous.”
It’s at this point, that things got weird.
Pupils, colleagues and parents began rallying behind the teacher. One pupil, Lola, said: “He’s our favorite teacher, the best we’ve ever had in this school. We don’t want him to be punished.”
Away from the school, villagers in the area agreed. One told French newspaper, Le Charente Libre: “What do you think they talk about in the playground? The images [kids] see on TV are far more shocking.”
Eventually, a protest group made up of parents and students went to the school and demanded the teacher’s immediate reinstatement. The group claimed that constant media coverage of the affair had been “over the top and inappropriate,” and that the teacher had “not shocked” the pupils.
Now a local education union has called the suspension was a “bad response taken in haste under pressure from a part of public opinion”
Reportedly, the matter remains unresolved.