September 9-11, 2021


In the predominant view of education, the student’s primary job is to consume and store information, much like a computer. But such a view misses the true nature of learning. Learning is a dynamic process in which a student, like an apprentice, slowly builds skills and knowledge, constantly self-correcting toward mastery and a sound worldview. A key component of the process—frequently overlooked in modern education—is a student’s moral orientation toward truth. In this conference, we will explore the art of learning through talks and workshops in order to become better learners and better teachers.



Guest Speakers

Nancy Pearcey

Nancy Pearcey

Nancy Pearcey is the author of Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. Her earlier books include The Soul of Science, Saving Leonardo, Finding Truth, and two ECPA Gold Medallion Award Winners: How Now Shall We Live (coauthored with Harold Fickett and Chuck Colson) and Total Truth. Her books have been translated into eight languages. She is professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University. A former agnostic, Pearcey has spoken at universities such as Princeton, Stanford, USC, and Dartmouth. She was highlighted as one of the five top women apologists by Christianity Today and was hailed in The Economist as “America’s pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual.”

Andrew Pudewa

Andrew Pudewa

Andrew Pudewa is the founder and principal speaker of the Institute for Excellence in Writing and a father of seven. Traveling and speaking around the world, he addresses issues related to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity, insight, practical experience, and humor. His seminars for parents, students, and teachers have helped transform many a reluctant writer and have equipped educators with powerful tools to dramatically improve students’ skills. Although he is a graduate of the Talent Education Institute in Japan and holds a Certificate of Child Brain Development from the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his best endorsement is from a young Alaskan boy who called him “the funny man with the wonderful words.” He and his wonderful, heroic wife, Robin, have homeschooled their seven children and are now proud grandparents of eleven, making their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Leigh Bortins

Leigh Bortins is a nationally acclaimed educator, perhaps best known for her ability to demystify the fundamental tools of learning. As a teacher, author, and commentator, Leigh is credited with helping to launch the “home-centered learning” education movement.

After earning a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, Leigh worked in the aerospace industry before beginning her work as an educator. She also holds a D.Min. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts. In teaching study skills for 30 years to children and adults, she has written several books, including The Core, The Question, and The Conversation, a series which explores the classical trivium from a parent’s perspective. She has also authored complete K-12 curriculum guides for parents and homeschool tutors all across the country.

Leigh is the founder and chief visionary officer of Classical Conversations Inc., an organization that models the home-centered learning approach to empower learners of all ages. She trains facilitators dedicated to duplicating her methods and is thereby transforming education and improving the quality of family and community life.

Leigh is currently working on developing a math curriculum that maps the structure of learning K4-12 math from a classical, Christian perspective. Leigh’s emphasis on the time-tested enjoyment of learning and the fundamentals of education and critical thinking skills grew out of her own experiences in homeschooling her four boys with her husband Robert. They and their children and grandchildren live near Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Classical Conversations® is a classical education resource used by homeschoolers in all 50 states and 30 foreign countries. CC now has more than 125,000 students enrolled in its tutoring programs, which are provided by 2,500 CC communities.

John Seel

John Seel

John Seel has years of experience in classical education and administration. He is a founding board member of the Society for Classical Learning and two-term chairman. He is also the co-founder of the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability. He is the founding headmaster of The Cambridge School of Dallas. Most recently, he was the director of cultural engagement for the John Templeton Foundation in Philadelphia, where he managed a portfolio of over $8 million in grants per year.

The son of medical missionaries in Korea, he brings personal and professional expertise in understanding culture and cultural change. He is known as a cultural analyst, having served in leadership roles at the Institute for the Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He is an expert on the church’s missional outreach to the coming generation of young people and is the author of The New Copernicans: Millennials and the Survival of the Church.

Seel has a master of divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary and a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Maryland (College Park). He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, and Palmer Theological Seminary.

He is serves on the board of the Windrider Institute and the advisory board of the New Canaan Society, Gutenberg College, and Renew the Arts. He and his wife, Kathryn, have three grown children, and they live on a 250-acre historic farm in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania.

Gutenberg Speakers

Chris Swanson

Chris Swanson

Chris Swanson has been a tutor at Gutenberg since 1994, and in 2016, he became president of the college. He has a B.S. in physics and math and both an M.S. and Ph.D. in physics. He has also done post-doctoral research at the University of Oregon and taught at Westmont College in California.

Eliot Grasso

Chris Swanson

Eliot holds a B.A. in music from Goucher College, a M.A. in ethnomusicology from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, and a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance. He studies the relationship among melodic variation, cognition, and socio-cultural context. Eliot’s scholarship and teaching have been recognized with awards from the Society for Ethnomusicology and the University of Oregon.

Conference Details


Thursday night, September 9, 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Friday, September 10, 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 11, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


Cove Church
1790 Charnelton Street
Eugene, OR 97401


For a group discount (five or more people), contact the office at or 541-683-5141.

Early Registration (by August 3, 2021)
Full conference (except banquet): $120 (Individual); $210 (Family); $60 (Student)
Friday only (except banquet): $80 (Individual); $140 (Family); $40 (Student)
Livestream plenary talks (online): $85

August 4, 2021, and After
Full conference (except banquet): $150 (Individual); $263 (Family); $75 (Student)
Friday only (except banquet): $100 (Individual); $175 (Family); $50 (Student)
Livestream plenary talks (online): $100

Friday Night Banquet
(The maximum attendance at the banquet will be 175.)
$30 (Individual); $45 (Family)

* The Friday night banquet costs extra.
* Financial Aid: Limited financial aid is available for those who wish to attend. If you wish to apply, please contact the Gutenberg office.

Contact Us

Please contact the office at if you are interested in learning more about:

  • Volunteer opportunities and discounts
  • Event sponsorship opportunities
  • Lodging options

Conference Schedule

Thursday, September 9th

6:00-7:00 p.m. Registration & Greeting Time
7:00 p.m. Introduction: Eliot Grasso
7:15 p.m. 1st Plenary Talk: Andrew Pudewa,
“Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education”

Friday, September 10th

9:00 a.m. 2nd Plenary Talk: Chris Swanson
“More Than We Can Tell: The Art of Knowing”
10:00 a.m. Refreshment Break
10:30 a.m. Breakout Session A: “What is Discussion?”
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Breakout Session B: Various Lectures
3:00 p.m. 3rd Plenary Talk: Leigh Bortins
“Big Heads on Little Bodies”
4:00-6:00 p.m. Break & Nancy Pearcey Book Signing
6:00 p.m. Dinner Banquet
7:30 p.m. 4th Plenary Talk: Nancy Pearcey
“Test Everything: Equipping Students for the Pursuit of Truth”

Saturday, September 11th

8:30 a.m. Breakfast
9:30 a.m. 5th Plenary Talk: Jonn Seel
“Fostering the Allure of Learning”
10:30 6th Plenary Talk: Eliot Grasso
“Learning as an Act of Will”
11:30-12:30 a.m. Q&A Panel
12:30 p.m. Closing Remarks

Plenary Talks

THUR, 7:15 p.m.

Andrew Pudewa

Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education

What is mastery learning, and how does it relate to education? Andrew will explain the methods, goals, and benefits of the ability-development model as developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and discuss applications of the model to disciplines other than music along with potential obstacles to successful implementation. Come and hear how, as Dr. Suzuki puts it, “Every child can learn,” and how you can create success in areas where you or your children have struggled in the past.

FRI, 9:00 a.m.

Chris Swanson

More Than We Can Tell: The Art of Knowing

Chemist, economist, and philosopher Michael Polanyi said, “We know more than we can tell.” Below the surface of this simple sentence is the secret to our rich, interwoven, mental tapestry from which we derive knowledge, intuition, learning, logic, language, reason, and a search for order. In this talk, Chris will explore two types of knowing: that which we cannot tell and that which we can. Understanding these two types of knowing and the interrelation between them provides a critical insight into teaching and learning for all ages and all subjects.

FRI, 3:00 p.m.

Leigh Bortins

Big Heads on Little Bodies

Were you ever sure you had taught something to your children only to discover they hadn’t learned a thing? It’s tough for children to fit into adult expectations, and it’s even harder for adults to remember little bodies have little heads! Leigh used to remind herself of this by saying to her youngest son, “Can you just be 30 years old for a minute?” when she was frustrated with him.  (She says he learned and started saying to her, “Can you buy this for me before I no longer want it?”) Come enjoy more real-life wisdom as Leigh explores ways to bridge knowledge gaps between tutor and student, adults and children.

FRI, 7:30 p.m.

Nancy Pearcey

Test Everything: Equipping Students for the Pursuit of Truth

How can Christian colleges equip students with the skills to think critically about the many competing worldviews they encounter? In Romans 1, Paul offers the Bible’s own missionary manual. In this presentation, based on her book Finding Truth, Nancy Pearcey shows how Christian teachers can “translate” Paul’s insights into a powerful strategy for critical thinking. Students no longer have to memorize arguments; they simply need to master a single plan of action that has the strength of being firmly rooted in Scripture.

SAT, 9:30 a.m.

John Seel

Fostering the Allure of Learning

This talk will explore Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s observation: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Students absorb knowledge about—they learn about—what they love. They do not learn unless the information is meaningful and captures their imagination. John will explore the epistemic role of love in teaching and the teacher’s responsibility to foster the allure of learning, which requires engaging the student’s imagination and communicating one’s passion and love for the subject. Before students are going to learn, the teacher must first inspire love for the material, which requires engaging the liberal arts “why” prior to the subject matter “what.” Only after the imagination establishes the necessary conditions for learning is reason usefully engaged. Missing the first step leaves the student stranded on the far side of the river without a bridge.

SAT, 10:30 a.m.

Eliot Grasso

Learning as an Act of Will

The Bible makes it clear that to know God requires a profound act of the human will. God is holy and good, but to know this requires us to admit that we are not. God is merciful, but to know this requires us to see our need for forgiveness. God’s promised kingdom alone satisfies, but to know this requires us to recognize the false promises of this world. To be disciples, students of Jesus, we must admit that we are ignorant and that we need to learn. What is supremely true of learning from God is true for education in general. Learning is an act of will, and every student must make the choice to learn. In this talk, Eliot Grasso explores the biblical connection between knowing and willing. Understanding this connection will help us to better understand the responsibilities of both students and teachers.