Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Suicide Letter

Like most parents, I send my children to school to learn the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic. With a dash of analytical thinking, and a side of critical thought. While I am all for progressive forms of education, I believe that some subjects should not be breeched, or discussed in a classroom setting. This argument is usually made in reference to sexual education. But there are other subjects, in my opinion, that are inappropriate and down right dangerous.

One parent is upset after students at York Prep in Manhattan were asked to write suicide notes from the perspective of a suicidal character in the book The Secret Life Of Bees. The assignment, which was given to ninth grade students, asked them to justify from the perspective of character May Boatwright why they wanted to commit suicide.

I fail to see the educational value in asking children to give insight into the suicidal thoughts of a fictional character. Especially given the fact that no one can be absolutely certain that there are no suicidal characters in the classroom.

“We thought this was such an outrageous assignment for a 14-year-old to get,” a parent told the local media. “We pay a lot of money to send our kids to the school.” However, the school’s headmaster, Ronald Stewart, said that he believes the assignment had merit. Furthermore, he said he has not received any complaints from parents regarding the assignment.

“The teacher wanted the assignment to be a lesson in carpe diem, ( a Latin phrase meaning seize the day.) She wanted them to look and see why one should live life to the fullest,” said Stewart.

While I understand the intention behind the assignment this form of psychology it could have an adverse effect.

Stewart also said he believes teachers should assign work that allows students to think about tough topics.

“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? "

The incident comes after a string of other school-assigned suicide note controversies. In December, A French teacher asked students to pen their own suicide notes. Last June, one British parent was upset after her son’s school asked him to write a note as if he had a terminal illness.

We now live in a day and time when it is taboo to teach children about God. But perfectly acceptable to teach children about suicide.

We as parents must step up and take responsibility for some of our children's education, after all we are their first teachers.


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