Making Students of ‘Macbeth’ Write Suicide Notes Was Probably a Bad Idea

We all remember getting some pretty stupid assignments in school. That’s doubly so when a teacher tries to make Shakespeare more “relatable.” But one teacher didn’t have the students write a rap about The Bard’s plays. The students were asked to write a suicide note.

This came up when a school in London wanted students to really engage with Lady MacBeth’s death “by self and violent hands.” The idea was to put the students in the head space of the homicidal/suicidal madwoman of The Scottish Play. For homework, students were asked to write suicide notes of their own.

“On what universe was it ever a good idea to ask a group of teenagers to write suicide notes?” one extremely reasonable mother asked. It’s the kind of question you’d expect to be rhetorical, only in this case, not.

“It’s fine for children to learn Shakespeare, but it is certainly not fine to get them to write suicide notes. Whoever came up with this needs to go back to teacher training college,” said another parent.

As a graduate of teacher training college, I can assure you, this was not an idea that gets taught there. Maybe they do things very differently on the other side of the pond.

The school has since apologized and promised not to give similar assignments in the future. Two classes did complete the homework though.

If it was me, I would have simply announced, “Bring me no more reports; let them fly all!” (MacBeth, Act 5, Scene 2).

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