A teacher asks his students to write their obituaries, he gets fired

“Today was the last day of your life, write your obituary. An American psychology professor lost his job after giving his high school students this rather peculiar essay topic. Jeffrey Keene, 63, explained on Facebook that he wanted to link his course to an exercise intended to prepare students for the risk of intrusion by an armed individual into their high school, near Orlando, Florida.

An “inappropriate duty”

He asked his students to write down their “impressions” related to this simulation and to think about the causes of the repetition of the killings in the United States, their possible remedies and therefore, to imagine their post-mortem biography. A small note specified “thank you for realizing (…) that it is absolutely not a question of disturbing you”.

The teacher was sacked on Tuesday April 4. In a press release, reproduced by the American media, the school authorities accuse him of having given “inappropriate homework” to his students. He defended himself on local television channels. “It wasn’t to scare them or make them think they were going to die but to help them understand what’s important in their lives,” he said on NBC. His dismissal “stunned” him, he added on Fox 5: “I was talking to the students about the world they live in, about guns, shooters…”

Fatal School Shootings

Firearms have become the leading cause of death for American minors in 2020, with 4,368 deaths, ahead of car accidents and overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). Bloodbaths in schools represent only a tiny portion, but mark the spirits more.

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The United States was particularly shaken by the carnage committed in 2012 in a school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut (20 children killed), and in May 2022 in Uvalde, Texas (19 children and two teachers). Yet many Americans remain very attached to the right to carry a weapon and do not want to hear about even minimal reforms. Two elected officials from Tennessee have just been expelled from the local parliament for having joined demonstrators who came to the hemicycle to demand better regulations on firearms, after a massacre in an elementary school in Nashville.

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