After three years in the making, the book ‘Questions From Jesus the Master Teacher: An Integration of Faith and Learning’ was launched on Sunday, November 28, 2021. Written by life-long educator, Gerene Joseph, the volume features 30 of Jesus’ questions and highlights teaching strategies practised by the Master Teacher using a “novel and fresh” approach.
Dr Shanter Alexander, an Associate Professor at Howard University, praised the debut title as, “an amazing example of the true integration of faith and learning… filled with many fresh insights applicable to the daily experience of teachers across all grade levels, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.”
The book launch reflected Dr Alexander’s sentiments as educators and well-wishers from across the Caribbean commended the book’s relevance and depth. The celebration debuted across multiple platforms – including the North Caribbean Conference’s streaming pages - and featured many exciting segments.
Notably, eleven educators from nine islands took their seats at the event’s virtual round table dubbed “Peeling Back the Pages” to discuss the book’s content.
Each panellist gave their definition of the integration of faith and learning. Mrs Carlotta Challenger (Principal of Arthur Waldron SDA Secondary, Dominica) defined the term as, “Bringing together our beliefs and value systems as we share concepts in the learning environment and wherever we are given an opportunity to influence [others].”
Panellists shared their perspectives on various teaching strategies, and their applications, as outlined in the book. On the question, “How many baskets of fragments took ye up?” (Chapter 3), alluding to Jesus’ miracles of the loaves and fish, the educators made salient points on the author’s approach to teachers’ innovation. “Using scarce resources is nothing new to teachers,” said Mr Roland Sealey (Chair of Teacher Training Department, University of the Southern Caribbean). He termed teachers’ resourcefulness as the “Rumpelstiltskin phenomenon” where educators are often given straw and expected to spin gold. He noted that “Jesus showed us how to [utilize] scarce resources to ensure the maximum number of people benefited.”
Turning to the question, “Who do you say that I am?” (Chapter 24) the panellists dissected the author’s approach to teaching children self-worth through personal example. Mrs Yvette Blanchette (Principal, St. Kitts SDA Primary School) said, “Jesus expects us to be kind, tender-hearted and loving, and to accept [our] students…so that when the question is asked, “who do you say I am?” our children can say that our teachers and parents are representatives of Christ.”
The panellists did not shy away from the topic of bullying as they tackled the question, “Woman, where are thine accusers?” (Chapter 12). Mr Vidal Philip (Principal, St. Lucia SDA Academy) stated, “UNESCO recently released that one in three youth globally (or 33%) experience bullying in schools.” He alluded to the author’s perspective on the issue by highlighting that Jesus took a redemptive approach. The Master Teacher understood the bullies’ behaviour was symptomatic of something deeper. Mr Philip continued, “in every situation, God is trying to save both parties. Jesus was able to recognize [the bullies] had deeper issues. While you protect the victim…and ensure their behaviour does not persist, you should recognize the bully themselves need help. Jesus did not use public humiliation but was discrete in his approach to discipline.”
The evening’s highlight, “Author’s Footnotes,” was facilitated by educator Ms Kadian Rowe. This segment saw an intimate conversation, with the Antiguan author, on her writing process, inspiration, and hurdles.
Mrs Joseph and Ms Rowe sat in a cosy, rustic setting as the latter mused, “What was your inspiration for the book?” Mrs Joseph replied, “I observed teachers in the classroom and at workshops struggling with the concept of integrating Faith and Learning. This book was inspired by a desire to assist them in this area of their practice.” The author – who dedicated the book to her 99-year-old mother – also attributed the books ‘Education’ by Ellen G. White, and ‘Educating for Eternity’ by George Knight, as inspiration.
As for hurdles, Mrs Joseph pointed out that as Education Director of the North Caribbean Conference with a busy schedule, she paced herself over three (3) years to complete the book. After the successful launch of the volume, which ranked #1 on Amazon’s New Releases in ‘Educational Psychology,’ it appears the wait might have been worth it.
This program, a celebration of the influence of Christian Education, won’t be soon forgotten as evidenced by the “congratulatory confetti” from a wide cross-section of celebrants - students and personnel of the schools Mrs Joseph supervises, family, colleagues, and friends.