THIS VIDEO (you have to click the link; I was unable to embed it into the post) is of a sermon by Andy Stanley presented to middle school students called "You'll Be Glad You Did: Label Maker." Andy's message to young students is that no one but God has the right to label them because he is their creator and purchaser.
All middle school students struggle with this: finding their identity rather than accepting the one that has been placed on them by their peers. Middle school is the time in life when a young person wrestles with identity, and that struggle continues on into high school, college, and often beyond.
I teach in a private Christian school, and this idea of identity is a vital one to share with our students because our ultimate hope is that they will find their identity in Christ.
My partner teacher, Jen Woods, and I have worked together to create a challenging eighth grade curriculum that encourages students to consider major themes that relate to their lives throughout the semester: outside influence, considering other people's perspectives, appearance vs reality, and, ultimately, identity.
We use this video to introduce the big question "How do I shape my identity?" that goes along with our novel study of Ender's Game.
Ender is the perfect example of a character who is bombarded with labels, yet doesn't embrace any of them. He struggles to find his own identity in spite of what others want him to become. Students relate deeply to Ender's struggle with identity as they combat the same conflicts in their own lives.
The addition of this video to add the unique perspective of "God created you and he is the only person who has the right to label you" is a way to draw the discussion of a character down to a more personal level and ask students to face the question of their own identities. Ultimately, each student has to decide what she will let define her and shape her self and her future.
I hope and pray that even a hint of this lesson will sit with each student to help her realize that her identity can only be found in Christ.
Try This Tomorrow: You may not be able to include the Gospel in your lesson, but you can ask students to think more deeply about a character and themselves by pushing them to make the content relevant to their daily struggles. Help students to discover their own identities instead of having to live with labels.