Interview with a Middle Schooler

Interlinc's latest Youth Leader's Only Magazine (YLO 76) has a middle school ministry theme. I wrote this article for the edition, it's in there, but with a slightly different title. I like the Anne Rice-y pun in my title, so that's how I'm going to post it here.. (So there;)

Interview With a Middle Schooler:
A Few Middle Schoolers Views on the Statements of Experts
By Kirk Moore

I recently sat down with a group of middle schoolers and asked them to respond to some statements made by the folks who write books and magazine articles about middle schoolers.

Middle Schoolers are the “new teens.” They are invited into a teen lifestyle, a teen existence actually, that used to be the stuff of high school. (Packaging Girlhood By Sharon Lamb, Lyn Mikel Brown, p. 6)
Combined response: “I keep telling my parents that things are different than when they were my age. They think they know everything. They don’t.”
“Middle schoolers are bolts of energy wrapped in a package of laziness.” (Jerry Parks – Teacher Under Construction)

Combined response: “Not all the time – whoever wrote that is only describing the way we act sometimes.”

"Middle schoolers are often in a state of confusion, as they want to act like adults, but still feel like children; they also begin to feel the pressures of complicated social interactions, especially with the onset of male and female relationships." (http://math-and-reading-help-for-kids.org/articles/Psychology_of_Middle_Schoolers.html)

Female response: “Boys are the ones who are confused. They have no idea how to be friends anymore.”
Male response: “What happened to the girls? When did they turn so mean?”
“Middle schoolers are inspired by sincerity, frustrated by denial, and defeated by doubt.” (Jerry Parks – Teacher Under Construction)
Combined response: “What? Say something that makes sense!”
“The span between sixth graders and eighth graders (especially beginning-of-the-year sixth graders compared to end-of-the-year eighth graders) is huge.” (Mark Oestreicher – President, Youth Specialties – ysmarko.com)
Male response: “No duh. I have trouble recognizing some of my friends pictures from 6th grade!”
Female response: “I don’t think things have changed all that much.”
“Middle schoolers are unique because they’re not children anymore, but they’re not teenagers either. They’re at an in-between age, trying to figure out who they are in every day life and in their spiritual life. I love middle schoolers because they’re moldable.” (Cory Hammett, Middle School pastor at Living Hope Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky.)
Combined response: “Moldable? I don’t want someone messing with me and trying to turn me into something I’m not.”

Whatever any expert says, please remember this. Middle school students are people. They have minds, dreams, fears and joys. And the students you work with won’t be impressed by your expertise. Instead of treating them like projects for the future, remember that they are valuable today. All of the middle school students you work with deserve to be listened to and cared for as a person whom God calls precious.

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