What does Christian education have to offer the world? Firstly, it should develop more people who walk their talk. Secondly, it should offer a way of educating all children within a matrix of peace and, lastly, it should be founded on the continuous process of receiving and imparting God’s agape love, because God is love and love is God.
Action, peace and love – a mandate for global transformation. These are the words of English teacher, Monica Grey, who believes that “our cultural heritage includes our language, our faith and our way of being. Passing on this heritage to our children is an important step towards ensuring a community’s healthy self-esteem and, although this should not be necessary, it helps to validate who we are.”
Wolverhampton-based Monica’s study has shown that reading books, despite being rigorous with regards to literacy, are often lacking with regards to cultural literacy. She has drawn on a wealth of experience from being an English teacher and, with her research into this subject, together with her set-up, True Vine Academy, they are developing a literacy programme which celebrates African and African-Caribbean cultures in the UK.
Monica came up with an idea to educate and stimulate by visually creating The Band Family, which consists of Nan, Pops, Mum, Dad, Felix, Joy and Omar, thereby using the family to achieve her aims and objectives.
The Band Family is Monica’s creation, and she has worked with comic artist TAYO Fatunla, who came up with visuals for each of the characters. The family have formed a band, and music provides them with the atmosphere to solve their problems.
Alongside the reading books, True Vine Academy has created flashcards, workbooks and Sunday School resources designed to give young children a culturally relevant education at home, at school and at church.
Monica spent five years on a single course of study, and describes it like existing in a cocoon. “A PhD study is no easy feat and, when the thesis is submitted, you feel the feel the need to sit in the sun for a while and allow your wings to dry out.This is what I’m doing right now: sunning my wings in the rays of normal family life.” Well, Monica now aims to achieve just that.
Her definition of her Christian education pet project is in line with the biblical instruction to teach children in the daily hubbub (Deuteronomy 11:19): “By viewing our lives as a classroom, we reinforce the truth that we are all in need of daily transformation, and this humble approach to life is one that will produce a steady flow of individuals who do not insist on their own way, even when they believe that their way is right. Jesus also left us with the mandate to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).”
This process is integrally accomplished through a process of constant teaching and learning, where disciples are expected to learn a bit, practise a bit, then learn a bit more. Monica is passionate about Christian education, and is convinced it holds the answers to many of the world’s problems, including the ongoing issue of the deadly knife crime in London, the Midshires and beyond.
Monica believes that a formal curriculum of Christian education should not only be God-centred in its content, but also in its structure and development in communities. She believes teaching children requires sheer determination, discipline and diligence, but within a matrix of peace. She also believes children should have an unshakeable knowledge that their lives are in God’s hands, and that their efforts are a part of His plan, not a prerequisite for acceptance.
Christian education has a lot to offer the world, and should develop more people who walk their talk, through initiatives like the one Monica Grey has embarked upon with True Vine Academy, which isn’t just a project but a ministry.
Grey’s project…not only a project but a ministry
For more information about Monica Grey’s The Band Family -elementary Christian reading – and to purchase copies of the book for children starting to read, visit www.truevineacademy.com or call 07908 630286.
Tayo Fatunla is a Creative Artist, Visual Commentator / Comic Artist / Illustrator
www.tayofatunla.com Instagram @tfatunla123