A French teacher (in France) assigned what is perhaps the Frenchiest essay topic in the history of essay topics, a topic meant to spelunk the deepest, most bat-people populated depths of 13- and 14-year-old students' ennui:
You have just turned 18. You have decided to end your life. Your decision seems irrevocable. In a final impetus, you decide to give the reasons for your gesture. By creating your self-profile, you will describe all the disgust you feel toward yourself. Your text will retrace several events at the origin of this feeling.
The now-infamous essay was assigned, according to the BBC, at the Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard secondary school in the Charente region of western France. Parents were pretty pissed about the essay prompt, and regional director for the education ministry Jean-Marie Renault has said that the offending teacher could face disciplinary action. Parents, meanwhile, simmered over the self-loathing nature of the prompt, with some complaining that it "almost encourages" students to kill themselves.
That's a lot of outrage over a single essay prompt, but perhaps a less extreme topic was in order, something equally French but not so...drastic:
You have just turned into a block of cheese. Very old, very smelly cheese. Smell yourself. You are disgusting, are you not? Revel in your noisomeness. Let your cheese smell fill your lungs and stuff your pores. You are aged dairy. You are chunks of milk at the bottom of a carton. Your are a belly ache to all those lactose-intolerant dairy cowards. You are alienated, and, in an effort to document your alienation, you decide to write an essay for school. You will describe how cheesy you feel, and how you are simultaneously stinky and supercilious, an aged and moldy delicacy that only the hipster cheesemonger at a Portland Whole Foods truly understands. What do you have to say for yourself? Ah, but wait — you are cheese and you have no arms! How will you write? Only with a pencil gripped tenuously between your cheese teeth.
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