I wrote this earlier in the week, but left it in draft mode for now. Decided to publish it, though there have been two Sundays of teaching now and they’ve both gone very well, actually. The tone here may suggest otherwise, but that isn’t the intent.
I thought it would be easy. Comic books and super-heroes. Easy for middle schoolers, right?
It’s only been one Sunday of teaching middle schoolers about God and Jesus while using Justice League as a vehicle for a bigger picture. It didn’t go poorly. It was hard to read what the kids were thinking. They had good questions to offer and know at least enough to give the answers they think we want. No light bulb moments, though Excitement and eagerness had left the building.
Middle school is a rough time. I know of no one with fond memories of 7th grade. I remember many good moments in my junior high (no middle school for me) years, but still look back with gratitude that I don’t have to do that part again. Church was the best, though, if for no other reason than members of the drill team were also there and seemed to like having me there, too (oh, young Robert, had you only been paying more attention). Point being I didn’t need my interest captured. I was the scrawny kid eager to please my peers and grown-up guides through The Dark Years of Junior High. Being the kid who knew where the books of the Bible were was easy. Nothing else required. I was an easy sell.
But neither did it sink in At least, not for a while. I was (I think) a good kid because there wasn’t another option. It wasn’t that I chose being good. It was just how you were to behave. What does breaking the rules do for anyone? It’s not that I didn’t want to break them (and, honestly, I did break the rules, or at least bend them extensively), it’s that there isn’t a point. Just be quiet and hope the pretty girls sit with me again.
Now I’m teaching that class and with awesome friends who know a hell of a lot more about teaching than I do (for which I’m eternally grateful). There’s even a kid that reminds me exactly of me at that age. I thought the comic books and superhero stories would bring down the roof. They may yet, it’s only been one week.
On reflection, I don’t remember a single lesson from those years. I do remember Brian, Laura, Stacey, Kristin, David, and Stephen. Some with fondness and some with trepidation (David was quite intimidating and quickly became the football player to my band geek). Maybe the lessons sank in sooner or later. I wonder if it matters. Once again, the people left the lasting mark, this one for the better.
It seems that teaching middle school isn’t easy either. If it were as easy as showing up, there would be more volunteers.