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High School Teacher Assigns Homework: Write A Suicide Note

Controversial homework assignment given to Israeli 11th-graders

Thelma Yellin High School Of The Arts / Wikimedia Commons
• September 22, 2014 2:58 pm

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Eleventh graders at Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts in Givatayim, Israel, were asked to write a suicide note as homework for their advanced English class.

The assignment came after the class read the poem "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson, according to Israel Hayom. The poem is about a man that has what appears to be a perfect life, but commits suicide in the last line of the poem.

The controversial homework assignment was designed to have students explore the depths of Cory's character to understand the motives that drive someone with a seemingly perfect life to commit suicide.

Media personality Irit Linor posted about the incident online this past Thursday. The post, which was shared with some 2,400 people, sparked an impassioned debate.

 "Yes, dear eleventh graders of Thelma Yellin," she wrote, "You who want to be singers, actors, directors and musicians: There is no better way to learn English than to write suicide notes.

"Did I or did I not say 1,000 times that kids should be sent to study normal subjects at normal schools?"

Comments on the post, including several from Thelma Yellin alumni, expressed outrage at the incident. Some called for the teacher's dismissal, but others defended her.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry released a statement saying, "The principal of the school cancelled the assignment. The school's guidance counsellor will hold discussions with the students about more appropriate ways to deal with this topic."

The Givatayim municipality also released a statement, saying, "Although Thelma Yellin High School is physically inside Givatayim, student registration is nationwide and not local, so the issue is being dealt with solely by the Education Ministry."

Published under: Israel