Higher education in America today often emphasizes the pursuit of work that will provide a good living while neglecting to instruct students in the art of living well. In the end, students are often saddled with excessive debt and remain lost in darkness and confusion, unable to answer their own questions about the meaning of human existence. Gutenberg College offers an alternative to this flawed system, and performs a desperately needed role in American higher education. Our mission is critical to keeping a relevant, biblical worldview alive in our culture.
Gutenberg College is not sponsored by any church or association and, in order to preserve our independence, we do not accept federal funding. For this reason, those of us working hard to fulfill the school’s mission are profoundly grateful to the community of donors supporting us.
Here are three reasons why many of our supporters have chosen to give and why you might consider joining them.
Gutenberg is Distinctive
Gifts to Gutenberg promote a distinctive educational opportunity aimed at improving hearts and souls.
Gifts to Gutenberg College do significantly more than just provide a sound academic education to students. In giving, you also participate in Gutenberg’s profound approach to learning, which preserves an earlier approach to education that was intended to improve the heart and soul of a person. This approach leads to spiritual maturity so that each student might stand firm in his or her faith and engage the surrounding culture as an independent, confident, and humble thinker.
Educational opportunities like Gutenberg are exceedingly rare today. There are a great many professional development pathways available to students through vocational schools and four-year universities. What has been lost in the frenzy for financial well-being is a place where students can focus on the prior step of seeking the well-being of their person. Your support can bestow guidance and preparation for life, which directly benefits the students, their employers, and our society as a whole.
Gutenberg stands apart from other educational institutions for a number of important and decisive reasons.
We at Gutenberg College treasure our freedom to pursue our mission. We are not financially beholden to any particular denomination, church, or religious organization. Further, we have attempted to stay clear–as much as possible–from the influence that governmental entities exert through funding. While we do comply with all applicable laws, we do not accept any state or federal funds. Gutenberg College is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3)-organization.
For better or worse, our society has reshaped the role of higher education in a way that is oriented primarily toward credentialing. Students seek out various degrees based on the reputed value of the credential, which is weighed on a cost-benefit basis in terms of financial quality of life that credential is imagined to bring. Most colleges and universities have adapted to and encouraged this model by transforming themselves into businesses that charge a hefty fee for their product: the credential. They have become the gatekeepers to what most parents and students have come to desire.
Gutenberg College holds an entirely different model of education. To us, the primary value of education is found in how learning helps students to grow as individuals. Our entire curriculum and approach reflects this commitment. Gutenberg offers a degree, of course, and an excellent degree it is. For it indicates not merely that a student is prepared for a career, but, most importantly, it represents that a student has worked hard to gain the skills, understanding, and maturity to live life well.
Every life path that a student may choose requires at least two things: skill and knowledge. Both the auto mechanic and the brain surgeon must have knowledge in their field as well as skills of diagnosis and tool usage. Knowledge without skill is useless.
In times past, this duality was addressed in guilds and families. A young person was apprenticed to a farmer or blacksmith where information and skills were developed under the tutelage of a master. While we still use this model in the trades, a different model has developed for information-based careers. With the massive increase in specialized knowledge, education is seen primarily as the efficient transfer of knowledge. While lip service is still paid to building critical thinking skills in most colleges, the classroom is now predominantly lecture-based not because it is of benefit to the student’s personal growth, but because it is more cost effective to disseminate information in large groups.
Gutenberg is distinctive in its focus on skill development. Good intellectual skills are of paramount importance in an information-based economy. And, employers are beginning to recognize this fact (See Forbes article). Good skills cannot be learned passively in a lecture. Rather, skills must be developed under the guidance of a tutor. Gutenberg’s personalized, discussion-based style provides the time honored apprentice-master structure of passing on good skills from tutor to student.
Gutenberg College is distinctive in its approach to academic freedom. We simultaneously hold two seemingly contradictory views: we are unabashedly committed to the truth of the Bible and, at the same time, we have profound respect for the freedom of every student. Gutenberg’s first president, David Crabtree, writes: “For genuine believers truth is sacred. Our response to truth determines our response to God, and our response to God determines our eternal destiny. To treat truth lightly is to take God lightly, and to take God lightly is to take truth lightly. Thus coming to know the truth is ultimately a spiritual struggle more than an intellectual one. Truth is not simply a set of propositions to be memorized. It is, at its heart, an understanding of who we are as human beings and who God is. It is an understanding to which we are by nature resistant. Coming to know the truth means freely deciding to bow our hearts to this reality. The decision to embrace the truth in this fashion happens only by the grace of God.
This understanding of truth has significant implications for anyone who attempts to teach truth to others. A teacher is, to a very large extent, a spectator to the process of learning. To try to manipulate or coerce the student into acceptance of the truth is an act of disrespect and a violation of his personhood. The teacher can gently and patiently try to point the student in the proper direction, but the student must decide where he will go. A faculty that truly understands that this is the nature of truth will not violate the student’s freedom to freely form his own beliefs. To do so would be to disrespect the God who is there.
Ultimately the only sure safeguard of academic freedom is an ethos in which everyone has genuine respect for the truth and for one another. To try to secure it by any other means is futile.”
Gutenberg Makes an Impact
Through Gutenberg you have the opportunity to help the next generation by passing on important values.
Education can be described as the passing on of the wisdom of one generation to the next. Supporting Gutenberg College is an outstanding way to pass on the best wisdom that western civilization has to offer. Too often we hear of earnest young people leaving home and being drawn into secular ways of thinking. They enter a cultural milieu of pluralism and religious criticism which is suspicious of any claim to know “truth.” In this context, the truth of the Bible loses cogency.
By giving to Gutenberg College, you equip to grapple with secular ideals such as the “suspicion of truth” with tutors who value the Bible. Ultimately, it is God’s transformation of the heart that guides a believer, but by teaching students how to think, they gain critical tools for sorting out conflicting claims. This approach gives students a much firmer grounding in their faith that enables them to withstand cultural pressures.
Gutenberg Provides a Forum
Donors Participate in a vibrant intellectual community that seeks to address and provide clarity on the perplexing social and spiritual questions of our times.
Gutenberg students are not the only ones seeking to make sense of their lives. Donating to Gutenberg College helps to preserve a safe haven for people of all ages and perspectives to engage in the difficult process of seeking what is true. The gift of clarity can be one of the most important gifts we can bestow. Gutenberg values open, respectful inquiry where every question is allowed and taken seriously. At the same time, we rely on a biblical worldview to inform our thinking about complex issues. The mutual exchange of ideas in such a community clarifies and deepens the understanding of tutors and the community alike. Your gifts provide Gutenberg the opportunity to provide you and others a forum of community classes, institutes, workshops, and research into the critical social, philosophical, and theological issues of our times.
Donations support Gutenberg College in essential ways both big and small. These are some of the ongoing needs your gift will help to address.
David Crabtree, founder and former president, said, “A student is not a customer. A student is a soul. And a soul is a precious thing.” Students, regardless of income and background, are invited to participate at Gutenberg College. Only generous financial aid makes that possible. In order to maintain the integrity of its mission, Gutenberg does not accept state or federal aid. As a result, all financial aid is thus supplied privately through the college. Gifts to Gutenberg directly help financially disadvantaged students who would otherwise not be able to attend.
Education is fundamentally relational. Consequently, perhaps the single most important aspect of Gutenberg College is the faculty. It is the faculty who create a culture of openness and dialogue in the classroom and carry out the mission of the college year after year. Gutenberg has always been fortunate to have a cadre of experienced, knowledgeable, caring faculty who share the common vision of Gutenberg College. Our discussion-based approach and unique philosophy requires significant training for new faculty. It takes several years for this training process to help new faculty develop the necessary skills, wisdom, and experience with the curriculum. Gifts to Gutenberg will be used to begin the process of locating new faculty and training them in the art of being a Gutenberg tutor.
More students and faculty will require more administrative support. To meet growing needs, Gutenberg will need to hire additional staff to assist with fundraising, recruiting, and community outreach.
The $1000 David W. Crabtree scholarship is given to an established Gutenberg student who exhibits those qualities that exemplify the kind of student for whom Gutenberg was designed. For this scholarship, academic performance is a consideration, but Gutenberg is about more than academics. Diligence is also an important ingredient, but Gutenberg is about more than diligence. This scholarship goes to that student whom the tutors deem to have taken the content of the curriculum most profoundly to heart. Such a student takes seriously the issues raised, thinks about them, and allows the truth to change the way he or she thinks about life and how to live. Gifts to this scholarship fund will support worthy students in the years to come.
Gutenberg is a place that offers something for everyone. It is a place where students, friends, and faculty can all benefit from mutual encouragement to build and deepen our spiritual and intellectual grounding. Gutenberg intends to continue to offer community classes, institutes, workshops, and publications. With gifts to Gutenberg, we intend to expand those offerings.
Gutenberg College operates within a historic Jacobean building designed in 1927 by Lawrence, Holford, Allyn & Bean. It represents nearly a century of good friends and good memories. The quaint charm and classic style of the building has a place in the hearts of many who have passed through its doors. The building—while old and beautiful—needs refurbishing and repair in many areas. As one example, the second-floor student rooms and bathrooms need upgrading. Stay tuned for more information on how you can support a range of specific house needs.