New York English teacher assigns students to write personal suicide notes

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    June 19, 2013 8:12 a.m.

    Howard - your claim that you have to defend teachers and education implies that conservatives are anti-teacher and anti-education, which is so very far from the truth. I am very anti-poor teacher and anti-poor education, and I think I'm a pretty typical conservative. The U.S. education system ranks 17th among developed countries. I've had personal experience with too many teachers who are abysmal at their jobs, yet the schools can't or won't get rid of them.

    I've found that people who defend the public education system and teachers so fiercely tend to make the claim that people like me think all teachers are terrible. That's ridiculous. There are probably about as many truly great teachers as truly terrible ones. Most are just average. The small percentage of great ones is too small, and retaining even one terrible one is too much, and our public system overall does a very poor job at weeding out the bad ones. Hence a 17th place ranking, which is simply indefensible.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    June 18, 2013 10:45 p.m.


    I've been on this blog for many years I'm afraid. Those who have read my posts know better. But I'm also a defender of teachers and education, that much I will say and that proves out in the posts I've written on that subject. That's my rub. Perhaps my "bias" came through but there is the regular D-News anti-education pieces along with the regular chorus of those who will bash education nonstop, and I would bet that if this actually did happen at a public school we would hear from our "regulars" on the extreme right side of things in a nano-second.

    June 18, 2013 9:52 p.m.

    To Howard Beal - and yet, no such comments appeared from the "ultraconservatives," therefore making your warning a far greater indicator of your own political motivations than a reflection of the conservative irrationality you clearly intended to convey (despite your implied claim of impartiality).

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    June 18, 2013 9:42 p.m.

    @Howie B - anyone who starts his argument with "before the ultraconservatives come out..." can say he's not ultraliberal, but everyone with a brain understands the meaning behind the language. A sincere lack of recognition is a common self delusion that accompanies the "ultra" of either side.

    By the way, conservatives tend to blame stupid schools and stupid teachers all the time, public or private. On the whole, however, the private schools are light years ahead of the public schools in terms of educating our young'uns.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    June 18, 2013 6:04 p.m.


    Not a liberal my blogger friend, just calling it like I see it and it's the ultraconservatives that love to jump on this to blame public schools and teachers...

  • Bernard GUi Puyallup, WA
    June 17, 2013 3:26 p.m.

    Looks like they were running out of good essay topics.

  • Danny Chipman Lehi, UT
    June 17, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    Excellent suggestion, KWL!

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    June 16, 2013 7:56 p.m.

    I did not say what I intended to say. I meant to say that anything that encourages students to delve into the dark side of life is not helpful. Teenagers have enough challenges without this type of assignment.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    June 16, 2013 3:25 p.m.

    As a former teacher, I think anything that encourages students to look on the dark side of life is helpful. Certainly bad things happen in life, but to encourage them to happen is poor judgement on the part of anyone who does it, including teachers.

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    June 15, 2013 8:10 p.m.

    Before the ultraliberals come out in force politicizing a tragic subject...wait, Howard Beal has already posted. Never mind.

    This is a terrible idea that could be attempted by crazy public or private school teachers, approved by crazy public or private administrators.

    Let's leave the politics out of this one.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    June 15, 2013 5:26 p.m.

    Just because there are thousands of topics to think about doesn't mean that it is wise to do so! Just like a host of other 'topics' to discuss, such as drugs, sex, and suicide, the best way to reach kids is to tell them the truth, which means don't do drugs, remain chaste, and live your life! It is ridiculous to include topics in a curriculum that only foster more doubts and 'educational' ideas that justify actions and thoughts that lead to despair! Just because depression happens doesn't mean that we should give people 'hope' by discussing suicide as an option of any sort!

  • KWL Bountiful, UT
    June 15, 2013 3:56 p.m.

    Why not give the students an assignment where they write the arguments they would make to the character against her committing suicide, if given the chance? Or have them describe what they could do if they were afraid someone was considering suicide?

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    June 15, 2013 1:20 p.m.

    Before the ultraconservatives come out in force blaming the ills of public education, teachers and the unions, this happened at a PRIVATE school.

  • Danny Chipman Lehi, UT
    June 15, 2013 8:29 a.m.

    If any of the students actually are influenced to commit suicide, the teacher should be held responsible.

    I don't know if I could fulfill such an assignment. A particular quote from the Anne of Green Gables movie comes to mind as to why: "To despair is to turn one's back on God." -Murilla Cuthbert

    June 14, 2013 9:22 p.m.

    Ideally, children should be encouraged to be open with their parents and teachers. Ideally, parents and teachers should foster that openness and recognize signs of deeply troubled youth. Of course, most people don't live in an ideal world, but we don't show children pornography in order to broach the subject of pornography, and we don't give them drugs to foster a discussion about drugs.

    Youth who commit suicide are generally those who think a lot about it, and then find the rationalization and build up the determination to do it. Why encourage them to think a lot about it, and then find the best possible rationalization to do it? Two of three steps down, and then just hope they don't build up the determination outside of the assignment.

    This assignment is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 14, 2013 6:52 p.m.

    On the other hand, Lets and Livin, since suicide is taboo to speak of in anything more than a whisper, might this exercise open a door to discussion and thought that might help prevent it?

    I don't know -- I'm just thinking out loud.

    June 14, 2013 4:59 p.m.

    I wonder if the school is ready for the financial and emotional liability after a student commits suicide but leaves behind a note that says "I never really considered suicide before, but thanks to my assignment, I found many logical reasons to end my life right away. Also, with prolonged thought on the subject, I've found the personal courage to follow through."

    I can hardly think of a more dangerous activity than to require undeveloped teenage minds to spend significant time considering the rational justifications of suicide. The teacher and supportive school officials should be arrested for child endangerment.

  • LivinLarge Bountiful, UT
    June 14, 2013 3:15 p.m.

    One can only imagine what the teacher's assignment would be for the students after reading a book about Nazism or Charles Manson...